Monday, June 27, 2011

Questions

I asked Austin some questions about the Church in Bulgaria, particularily about the Youth programs because I am getting ready to go to Girl's Camp.  Here are his answers, I thought they were interesting.

No mom I haven't melted yet but as I said the heat starts this week.  As for girls camp, yea if we had young women we would.  In bulgaria we have about 350 active members 75% of which are old grandpas and grandmas.  There are about 4 branches with enough young people for youth programs but that usally is two to five at most.  We do have a youth confrence every year though but everyone below thirty is invited as well so it is more of a young/single adult confrence.  Here in Ruse we have 48 Members and about 20 Active and 11 that come every week.  If you don't think that is much it is better then the three we had in Pleven.

June 27-Word of Advice--Don't get fat and if you do, just stay fat!

I say that in the subject because if you get fat and stay fat then you don't have to deal with all the problems of having to taylor and buy new clothes when you get skinnier.  I am really glad I am getting skinnier but it is a pain to have to taylor everthing and buy new clothes while on my mission.  Anyway that isn't a big problem and now that everything fits me again I don't look like a mouse trying to wear an elephant's skin.  As of this week lets take a look shall we.

Monday:
After writting you guys we watched a movie and then Elder Olmstead and I went suit hunting.  There were three parts to this plan first to see if I can get my suits taylord.  We found out that they couldn't fix my suits because the shoulders are to big on me and they can't redue shoulders without redueing the whole suit.  So after dropping of some pants we initiated phase two.  This is finding a place where I could possibly sell my suits so that I could have more money to buy a new suit that would fit.  Well after walking all over town it we couldn't find anybody so on to stage three.  Stage three is to find a cheap good looking suit.  Finally we succeded in this and I found a suit that looks good and is only 99 lev which is around 76 dollars and in a couple more to taylor the pants and you got a 80 dollar suit that looks good and fits great.  Anyway after this fiasco we got ready for the night were we had a dropped meeting and surveyed all night.

Tuesday:
We woke up ate and then went out surveying until about lunch time.  After lunch and language study we surveyed some more and then had a meeting with Stefi.  The meeting went well.  She hadn't read her home work so we read it with her and then a did a brief overview of the plan of salvation.  During the lesson a random guy came in and was wondering when church was.  It was cool and we got his number and he said he would come to church, but Stefi got really defencive because he came in during her lesson and she didn't like that much.  It was alright though and still managed to finish the lesson with the spirit.  After her lesson we had dinner and then went and taught Miroslav.  He was nice as always and we had a good lesson in which we read 2 nephi 31 with him and discussed it.  After reading we also reemphasized prayer with him and how it needs to be with his own words and not something from a prayer book.  Then we had him pray and he actually said a real prayer.  That was great because we have been trying to get him to do that for the last month.  After meeting with him we went and meet the other elders for a little bit because the Zone Leaders had come in and they were on the way home.  After saying hi we went back home for dinner and then bed.

Wednesday:
Well it was my birthday and we went strait to work.  After our personal study we had district meeting and then had lunch with everybody.  We went to this new restraunt that was alright but not the best of food.  Elder Olmstead treated me and that was nice.  After  lunch we went street boarding for a couple of hours.  I met this really nice couple that had me speaking in bulgarian with them for about 10 mins before they finally said something in english.  Dispite making me speak bulgarain to them (which I am not mad about it was just funny) we talked for about 10 more mins in english and I found out that the girl had two friends in Peru that were members.  I gave them the address for the church and our number and I hope they come by sometime in the future.  Other than that it was a regular street boarding session except people here are hard to stop.  After street boarding we had english which was fun.  After english though we went back home to my nice comfortable bed.

Thursday:
We were in the apartment all day.  The reason why is that they finally installed our air-conditionar so we won't die in the summer heat that is supposed to start coming this week.  Well it took them until about 2:00 pm before they were done.  Something funny was that the safest spot that they could install it was over somebodys car.  Normally that wouldn't be a problem but we are on the 12 floor so gravity well turn the falling debree into deadly car denting missiels.  So to solve the problem I had to go down stairs with one of the installers and hold a blanket over the car in a attempt to catch any of the falling debrees.  Well we partially succeded but some did hit the car but luckly nothing broke.  Thank you Heavenly Father for answering that prayer.  Anyway after they finished we went to a lesson with a recived I had gotten yesterday and the guy never showed up.  So we they had seminary and went over the ward list with a member so we could find out some information on some people.  After all of this we went back home and in a futial attempt because of low quality bulgarian constuction we tried to put up blinds in our windows and failed.  So now we are looking into an alteria method of preventing the sunlight from coming in and baking us that won't look taky and also doesn't require drilling in any walls.  Well that was that day so onto friday.

Friday:
We stayed in our apartment until 2:00 pm weekly planning, eating lunch, language studing, personal studing, and companionship studing.  We then went out and surveyed for a while.  While surveying we called Stefin about a meeting we had that night with her and she said she couldn't come.  So we had an early dinner and then did some surveying while walking up to Miroslav's to teach him.  We had a good lesson on the pre earth life and on repentance.  He actually understood repentance really well and that is a huge relife for us.  After teaching him we came back in for the night.

Saturday:
Well as normal we had English in the morning.  English was fun as normal and I love teaching fourth level.  Anyway between english classes we had dumplings and then after english we cleaned the building.  After cleaning we had language study and then planned for the branch ativity for that night.  This involved Elder Olmstead and I going shopping for the food as well.  After all the planning and shopping it was time for the Branch activity.  The activity was a flop because only about 10 people came out of the 20 from ther branch and they were all the old ones that only like to sit and watch and do nothing.  So all of our carefully planned activitys were either to hard to do (which they weren't) or to dangerous (which wasn't true either.)  After the activities though we had a good spiritual thought and then some good food so it turned out to be not a complete disaster.  After the activity we cleaned up and went home.

Sunday:
We had church and Stefi came late as usall but Mirioslav didn't but that was alright because he had told us that he couldn't before hand and that he was going to visiting relitives.  After church in which Elder Olmstead had a talk we had a lesson with Stefi with the goal of making sure she would still come to church and lessons with out Mitko picking her up because he would be gone for a month to england and also to see if we could find out her true desire for learning so we could better orriant our lessons.  She wasn't in a good mood though so she wouldn't talk but she did say she would come to church on her own.  After this we went home and got caught in a downpour.  once we got back home we were soaked and about 5 mins later it all stopped.  We changed into some dry clothes and then had lunch and did some branch work.  We then had a meeting with a member named Nikolie Hristov.  He  has a really nice apartment and is realy nice as well.  After the visit we went and street boarded with the other elders for the rest of the night before heading in for the night.

Love,
Elder Austin James Ewell

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Can't Believe I'm Twenty!

I knew the day would eventually come but I just never really wanted it to.  In two days time I will officaly enter the realms of adult hood by turning 20.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I don't want to grow up............. Alright I am better now just had to get that out of my system.  But seriously I am turning 20 and seriously I don't want to grow up, but I am going to wether I want to or not so may as well make the best of it and start demanding all the presents that this year mark entitles me to.  I am just kidding I am not that greedy as all of you know I just am still freaking out about turning 20 and how I can no longer claim innoucence.  All right I have got to stop or I never will.  So lets see to answer some questions the biggest thing here in Ruse is the Danu River and probally that it is about the second oldest city in bulgaria.  I am loving it here and luckly it hasn't got too hot yet.  So let us jump into the week shall we.
 
Monday:
After writting you guys we went and first checked how much it would cost me to tailor everything of mine so I could save accordingly (don't worry I have plenty of money mom and dad)  After that we watched a movie during the hottest part of the day and then played basketball.  Basketball was fun and it was the first time I have any sport seriously since I have lost all my wieght and yes it was easier, but no I am still out of shape.  After Basketball we came back home to shower and eat.  I was beat for the rest of the night but we still went out to work and surveyed for the rest of the night.
 
Tuesday:
After our morning studies we went out surveying for about 3 hours and then we had lunch and language study.  After lunch we had a meeting with Stefi were we taught her about the apostasy and then watched the restoration film with her.  The lesson went really well and I am amazed that I am not slaughtering everything with the language.  After the lesson we commited her to pray and come to church.  After her meeting we surveyed on the way home for dinner and then had dinner.  After dinner we met with Miroslav and basicly did the same lesson with him except we had forgoten the video so we just used joseph smith history and our on knowledge to teach the restoration.  Oh he wanted to play chess with us before the lesson so we did and even though I did try he still just slaughtered me.  It felt like I was a mouse and he was a cat and he was just playing with me.  Anyway the chess was fun and we had a good lesson with him.  The teaching procces is going slow with these two but it is going forward and they are keeping every commitment it is just their understanding that is taking a while.  After the meeting with Miroslav we went back home for bed.
 
Wednesday:
After our morning studies we had district meeting and then lunch and language study.  We then waited for a droped lesson and then we had english.  English was fun and this week I switched up to the fourth level and it was nice to be able to speak and disscuse english with the students.  They asked some hard questions though questions that I remeber that I learned in college so it was fun and nice to have intelecual conversation with some one other than another missionary.  After English we had splits so I made some pizza from dinner useing this homemade herbal salt I had picked up from Stara Zagora and oh it was delicious.  After that though I went to bed.  Oh some news my MTC companion is my District Leader so we were on splits together isn't that cool.
 
Thursday:
First it was cool to be working with Elder Hubert again, because we already knew each other so we didn't have to try to get to know each other first.  As for the day it was filled with advertising for english, surveying, and hunting for a air conditionar for my apartment since we don't have one and lets just say the weather is starting to hint at me how evil it is planning on being.  After all of this for about 6 hours we went to seminary and I was just dead and could not pay attention or understand any bulgarian.  We then finished off splits and Elder Olmstead and I went to have dinner and go to bed.
 
Friday:
Woke up and made my normal oatmeal breakfast, but when I opened my new bag of oats I found to my out most suprise that the ants and beatles had beaten me too it.  Oh if I just had some means of enacting revenge those ants would never have seen the light of day again.  Any way they ran away to fast and I don't know were the nest is so I had to chuck a full 1 kilogram bag of oats in the garbage.  Other than that the morning went as normal and I am now keeping everthing in the fridge.  After our studies we went our surveying for about two hours and then came back had lunch and langauge study followed by our weekly planning session.  After weekly planning we went surveying/airconditionar hunting again for about two hours and then had dinner and a meeting with Miroslav.  After being soundly beaten in chess again we did a lesson on the restoration and we showed him the restoration video.  After the video we bore testimony and again we emphasaized that he needed to pray with out a pre-memorized script (he used to use prayer books and now he doesn't but he still will say parts from them.)  After the lesson we commited him to come to church and then came back home to go to bed.
 
Saturday:
After our morning studies we had english and then cleaned the building.  After cleaning we were helping Mitko a member who wants to learn english a little english when the Paulsons arrived.  The Paulsons are the office couple and Ruse is their branch that they come to every once in a while.  They also brought mail with them and I got all the postcards that you sent Mom and also Morgans graduation announcement.  I also got a candy bar and a mission memory journal but they didn't know who they were from so if it was one of you guys give a shout out so I can thank you.  After reciving our mail the Pauslsons treated us to dinner and then we finished helping Mitko with english and went surveying a little bit before haveing language study and going to bed.
 
Sunday:
Was a good day.  We had church in the morning and both Stefi and Miroslav came and stayed for the whole thing and the members fellowshiped them a lot.  After church we were supposed to have a lesson with Stefi but because of after church tasks we never got around to it but it was alright because she made really good friends with the members and got to hear some cool conversion stories.  Also I did about an two hours of translating for Mitko so he could talk with Elder Paulson and one I am proud of myself that I was able to do that and second my brain was so tired after wards because of all the translating.  After we got away from church we had lunch with the other elders and then went on splits again so I could teach Elder Hubert how to do Zone Fund.  After that we went back with our regualar companions and Elder Olmsted and I went tracting and surveying for about an hour before we had dinner with the other elders and oreo shakes since we had decided to have P-day Eve.  Oh something interesting.  I found a college text book on world relegions in their apartment and I was reading it for fun!  Oh how far I have fallen, okay not really but still I did notice how I would never have done that back home.
 
Monday:
Woke up brought our stuff back to our apartment and then went shopping and had personal study and showered for the day before writting you guys.
 
Love,
Elder Austin James Ewell

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hello Everybody

Hello how is it going?   Well I'm not dead yet the heat won't set in until later on in the summer.  Alright first about my companion and new area.  Elder Olmstead is from Chandler, Arizona he is very sarcastic and a lot of fun to be around I will include a picture of him in this email as well.  He still doesn't know what he wants to do when he goes back home and he is 20 years old.  Ruse is about 4 hours away from the nearest city with missionaries in it and about 6 hours away from the mission home.  So if you have sent anything I probably will not get it until July or August because nobody ever comes up here.  Also I didn't get to pick up mail on transfer day so I don't have any mail that might have been waiting in the mission home for me as well.  Ruse is right next to the Danu rive the second biggest in Europe and right over the rive are amazing sunsets and Romania.  Because of the river we get some pretty good storms her and the humidity is always above 60 % and the temperature will reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also there is a little bit of a investagator pool so we don't have to start from scratch.  Also Elder Olmstead has served in Ruse before just not in this area so he knows the city just not the investagators which helps.  Well that is all I have on the city so here is some more on the week.
Monday:
After Emailing you guys we just took it nice and easy.  We did some shopping and watched some movies and then at night we cleaned our apartment.
Tuesday:
Lets just say that the AP's and mission president planned traveling and I had to go all the way to Sofia and then from there to Ruse.  It was about ten hours on the bus but I wasn't alone the entire time so that was good.  Got into Ruse around 7:30 and unpacked, had dinner, and did a little bit of missionary work.
Wednesday:
My firts reall day in Ruse and I was stuck in the church all day.  First thing we had in the morning was district meeting and then we went out to this restruant that was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread according to every missionary whom had served in Ruse before.  And I was not impressed also the amazing cake they had was too sweet for me and yea lets just say I am the odd ball of the mission I guess for not liking it.  After lunch we did some shopping so I would have food for the week and then we had a dropped lesson which was followed by sitting in the church for four hours while people registered for english.  After which we went home for dinner and bed.
Thursday:
Instead of studing in the morning like normal today we decided to go and work in the morning and study in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat.  Well it worked and didn't work because we did avoid something just not the heat we avoided a giant storm that ended as soon as we were finished.  After our studies we had a meeting that fell through and so we attended seminary and then had a meeting with this really nice guy in his home. His name is Miroslav and  He has been reading from the Book of Mormon.  He still uses a prayer book but other than that he is really cool and I have high hopes for him.  After the meeting with him we went home and went to bed.
Friday:
Was task tastic.  We had to after our morning studies go and register in the city and then buy some stuff for the apartment.  After this it was time for lunch and another meeting that fell through.  After the meeting we weekly planned, had language study, and dinner.  We then had half lesson where we just found out he is a guy that missionaries have served before and he has helped us before but he isn't interested at all in our church.  We then had a another meeting fall through and then went home to bed.
Saturday:
First thing in the morning after studies was english.  We have two hours of it here just like in Pleven and it was fun.  I taught first level for the first hour with Elder Olmstead and first level for the second hour with Elder Karajov (a mini missionary from sofia.)  English was a lot of fun like always.  After english we had cleaning and for lunch we got chicken dumplings from a chineas resturant and I fell in love!  Anyway after cleaning we went surveying for a while and then had a dropped meeting and then went and met with Miroslav again with a member named Mitko.  Mitko is about 18 and he was baptized a year ago and he follows us around like a little puppy and does missionary work with us.  It is really fun and it is good language practice.  After the meeting we went home to bed and to my dismay I couldn't find my camara.  I looked every where for it and still couldn't find it so I said a prayer and just hoped it wasn't stolen.
Sunday:
First thing in the morning was church.  Church was great for a couple reasons.  First Miroslav came to church and he brought my camera with him.  Aparantly it had fallen out of my bag when we were teaching him saturday.  Also another of our investagators came to church as well and after church she met with us and she had been reading a little out of the book of mormon and she commited to pray about it and come back to church again the next week.  After church and the meeting with Stefi (the investagator who is a girl and about 19 years old) we sang a little with the members and then had lunch.  After lunch we were surveing for 5 hours strait.  That was long and we got to see the city a lot.  It also made me wonder how much a missionary walks in this mission on average per day and I wish I had a peddometer to figure it out.  After five hours of surveying we came home for dinner and bed.
That was my week and thank you all for the letters of support.  Oh also I measured my self this morning on the scale and I weigh 198.6 pounds!  I broke Two Hundred.  I belive that is the first time I have been under two hundred since eighth grade as well.  So to commemorate this I am sending some before and after pictures.  The pictures are from the MTC and from last night (I am skin and bones,)  My new Companion Elder Olmstead, and a picture of the Danu.
Love,



Elder Austin James Ewell

Monday, June 6, 2011

Transferes and I'm going to dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay let me explain about the I'm going to die thing. It has to do with transferes. I have been transfered to Ruse. This is amazing and I am going to be serving with Elder Olmstead a younger missionary (so I am senior) that probely knows more bulgarain than I do (he is a genius.) Non of this has me worried and I am looking foward to it the thing that is going to kill my is during the summer it gets up to around 115 degrees faranhieght and the city is right next to the Danu river so the humidity is incredably high. And for all you that know me I can't take the heat. They are going to have come and vacuum up the puddle that used to be Elder Ewell because I am going to melt! Other than that I am super excited to serve there and that is one of the cities that I wanted to serve in so it is going to be good. So lets get on with the week.

Monday:
So we decided to take this P-Day nice and easy because we were worn out still from the last one and the week. So that is exactly what we did. Come night time when we had to work again we had one meeting fall through, but one of them didn't so we got to meet with this really cool guy that seems sincerly interested in knowing how to come closer to Christ. The lesson went well and it was a good end to a P-Day.

Tuesday:
After the regular morning routine we went to another dropped meeting and then surveyed until around 2 at which point we had lunch and then a meeting with a investagator named Maria. She is really cool but way to smart for her own good and won't be taught. Anyway we are slowly working with her. After her meeting we had another meeting fall through and then the Haskovo elders came in for splits so we did splits and Elder Kariya and I had another meeting fall through and just surveyed all night until it was time to go in.

Wednesday:
After our studies we had district meeting and then Elder Furtado and I were on splits while the other Elders went of to Nova Zagora to work with the Majors and their friends. Well Elder Furtado got stuck with a ton of tasks to do. In all we had to check on if we can street board which we can but not until the 15th, get copies for all the church keys, and then prepare a bunch of new pamphlets and fliers because we were completely out. By this time we had to meet a potential investagator who wanted to show us where he got these flowers that he made the most amazing juice from. It is an Elder berry flower and what he does is he immerses 5-10 clumps of them in water for 24 hours then filters out the flowers. He then adds a kilogram of surgar per liter and then pours a little in a glass and adds about 8-10 times more water. IT IS SO GOOD!!! Anyway he took us on this really preaty hike and we got to talk about religion a little on the way back home. It was really nice and I hope good comes from it. After him we had our language hour and dinner and then it was time for bed.

Thursday:
After our mourning studies and saying good bye to the Haskovo Elders we went out surveying up to Donkas house to teach her again. On the way we met a lady that we had given a book of mormon to who said that she had been reading 20 pages a night from it and loved it. She told us she would come to church and I hope that this goes some were. We then found Donka and had a nice lesson with her and she promised she would come to church a long with a couple of friends. After her lesson we came back home for lunch and language study. After lunch and language study we prepared for english early because we had a lesson right before it but the lesson never showed. English went fine anyway and after wards we had a nice lesson with this couple named Ivan and Didi. We talked about gods purpose and the lesson went really well. After that lesson we came back home and had lunch and went to bed.

Friday:
After personal study we headed out to Nova Zagora with the Haskovo Elders to do service and a lesson with one of the Majors friends. Her name is Christine and she is from Jamaca and England and she lives here now with two of her children. The service was to clear half of her yard which is huge! So we got started on it and what do you know I ran into an old rock garden that they didn't want any more. Well it was overgrown with weeds so I had to clear the top layer of rocks to clear the weeds and that took me all day and at the end I had a six foot pile of rocks by me. After the service we had dinner and taught her a little. She has a really good testimony of God and how he always will look after her and provide for her. After the lesson we drove back home with Brother Major to do home teaching and on the way we had transfere calls. That was fun and very nosy. As I metioned up top I am going to Ruse with Elder Olmstead and Elder Morgan is going to Varna with Elder Neuinswander and they are going to be the Zone Leaders of Zone 3. When we got back home we had a lesson with Anton where we found out that his wife had thrown out all of his scriptures and church material (or hid them some where.) It is really sad that she is so made against this. Anton isn't changing his mind though, but it must be hard on him. We can only pray though that his wife's heart will be softened. After Anton we went with Brother Major to meet with Ivan and Didi again. We had a good lesson on the creation and Adam and Eve and after wards we sang a hymn for them. Didi also said she would come to church. After this lesson we went home for planning and then to bed.

Saturday:
In the morning we had english like usaull and then cleaning of the church building. After cleaning we had lunch and language study and then after another dropped meeting we tried to contact people for two hours before we had to weekly plan. That was two of the longest hours ever because we were worn out from Friday and nobody was talking to us. After trying to find people we went to this new chinease place that didn't have great chinease food (It was still good though, just not chinease) but had huge portions for very little money. Let me just say 800 grams and fried rice with peppers, corn, zuucine, and good chicken for 4.20 leva is a steal. After eating we planned for the week which was basicly prepareing the city to be whitewashed (missionary for a completely new set of Elders.) After planning we went to bed.

Sunday:
Lets see we got to church at 8:45am and didn't leave till 3:30pm translating the entire time. By the end of church we were both drained and Elder Morgan was in the branch presidents office with his head on the table just translating and looking like he was about to die. As soon as we were out of church which there were good lessons in it and testimonies. We went to Grandpa Johns and gave him the sacrament. After him we came back so Elder Morgan could pack because it takes him a good 4-5 hours to pack everything he has. After this packing session we went and surveyed for about an hour before going to bed and had two reciveds and managed to meet with one of our potential investatgators which was a blessing even though he still isn't and investatgator. And then we came home to bed.

Monday (Today):
Well today we took it nice and easy in the morning and are just planning to relax and enjoy our last moments in Stara Zagora. I do have some news for you mom that you would like. Tulips her grow like weeds they are every were. That is right we don't have those nasty ugly tough weeds from Utah here we have nice beautiful flowers for weeds.

Well that is everything and I will talk to you guys later.

Love,
Elder Austin James Ewell