Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29

Well this week was a long week filled with dropped apointments, but it was a fun week and flew by and I can't belive it is monday again.  So let us get started with the week.

Monday:
After writting you guys we had some branch fund to do and then we had lunch and walked around the city window shopping with the other elders while looking for things to see.  We then went to the church and watched "Tangled" to cool down and then we went back to the apartment to clean.  After cleaning we went to work were we finally put up the last of the english posters and then got some good soild surveying time in.  The survey changes every once in a while and we are prototyping a new one right now.  The basic process behind it is we ask some questions like do you belive in god or are families important.  Then at the end we use the information we got to give a short little message about why we are here that should apply to them.  If all goes well we get a number from them to call and set up an appointment.  If not well they just get our number and a small brochure incase they are interested later or have a friend who is intrested.  It is better to get a number because nobody ever calls the number.  From my whole mission I have only had one person act on their own and use the information on the brochure to come to church.  Surveying though is my faviorite finding tool because we get to be outside talking with people and I belive other than street boarding it is the best way to find people here besides member refferals (and we don't get any of those very often.)  After surveying we went in to bed.

Tuesday:
We surveyed in the morning and then had one meeting drop, lunch, language study, a home teaching appointment, and another meeting drop.  So we then had dinner and surveyed a bit till our meeting with Miroslav.  After being owned in chess we talked about the baptismal covenat and went over the interview questions.  Then we asked him if he would like to be baptized on the 17 and he said yes!  And to answer your question dad he would make the 4th person that I have had influnce in teaching get baptized.  I have seen 6 baptismal services and 8 people baptized if this one goes through.  Yea this mission is really difficult to get numbers so just a little something for little Max.  Despite survying hundreds of people and only 1 lesson the week wasn't too bad.  But I don't mind about the numbers because it makes every success all the more sweater, this mission is young and when the hight baptizing missions *cough* (brazil) were young they were growing about the same rate we are now, and I am haveing to much fun here on the mission.  The thing that prevents so many people here though is tradition of there fathers.  I cannot tell you how many times I here I am provoslav (orthodox in bulgarain) so I don't need anything else, and then you ask why they are orthodox and they say because it is tradition.  I would be fine with that if they were all faithful but they are only orthodox in name they don't even go to church except for baby blessings, and maybe easter.  Anyway I love this mission despite the difficulties and it makes me think that my work is really doing something because it feels so hard, and once something happens it makes it all the better.  So I am very excited for Miroslav and I can wait for his baptisim just keep him in your prayers.  After the meeting with him we went back home for bed.

Wednesday:
After our morning studies we had district meeting with the zone leaders who were in for splits.  District meeting was really great and I have come to love any oppurtunty I have to be able to sit down and listen to others teach.  After district meeting we had lunch and then another dropped meeting.  We then surveyed for a bit and then for 3 hours we were at the church for english sign ups.  We got around 50 people who signed up which means we will have around 70-100 at english which will be great.  It gives us a chance to teach people here that we are normal and that we are the true church.  It was really funny to see Elder Dropla's and Neuenschwander's reactions to one english student.  She is around 25 and gorgous, also lets just say you have to focus on her face while you teach because the clothing will just distract.  Well they freaked out and it was hilarous.  Anyway that was about the highlight of that day.  After english class sign ups we went home for dinner and bed.

Thursday:
We went surveying again after our morning studies and then had lunch and language study.  After these we had a english planning meeting and then another dropped meeting.  We then surveyed until our meeting that night with a less-active member.  The meeting went fine.  Her name is Boyanka and between work and care for her mom who has Alzhiemers (or something like it) she says she has no time to come to church.  We committed her to once a month though and she agreed.  Lets pray and hope that she follows through this time.  We then had dinner and bed.

Friday:
In the morning while it was cool we surveyed and then had lunch and weekly planning.  Oh while surveying today we finally got 2 reciveds for us.  We had gotten about 4 other reciveds (that is contact info) throughout the week but three were for other missions (India, England, and California) and one for Varna, so it was nice to finally get some for us and they are really cool their names are Anna and Nicoleta.  Please keep them in your prayers.  After weekly planning we surveyed some more and then had a meeting with less active named Tihomir.  The meeting went really well and he knows his church history better than I do (at least with the dates.)  I really hope he stays active because he is great and normal so please keep him in your prayers as well.  After the meeting with him we went to see if we had a lesson with Miroslav because we couldn't remeber but he was in his village.  We then came back home and made the best mashed potatoes ever.  They had hamburger sausage, eggs, Cirane (like feta cheese), galic, milk, and butter in them and it was so good. After eating we went to bed.

Saturday:
We had english in the morning and I was teaching first level with Elder Neuenshwander.  First level is so much fun to teach because you can actually see them progress in the language.  After english we had lunch and then waited for some stragling english students because our posters had two times up for saturday but we had changed our plans to just one.  So we waited for the others to see if they would show up.  Some did and we taught them and then told them the change in plans.  After english we cleaned the building and then went surveying until dinner and bed.

Sunday:
Had church and then branch funding we had to do.  We then had a home teaching meeting with the other elders and then surveyed and tracted all day.  We did get let in by a muslim and he just talked about his faith and wouldn't listen to us but even though it was a waist of time it was very educational.  We then came back for dinner and bed.

I love you all and sorry about the hard time max it is just funny and frustrating to read your numbers some times.

Love,
Elder Austin James Ewell

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Transfers

First of all this letter is going to be really short because I don't have much time.  So lets us all the time I have and get to work.

Monday:
Just another regualar P-day.  During the working hours we did our deep clean and then there was a small gettogether of english students so the other elders could say good bye.  We then had dinner with a member that was really good.

Tuesday:
Basicly traveling all day and settling in my new companion.  His name is Michael Dropla.  He is from Columbia, South Carolina and he his full of energy which is really refreshing.  He is really good at the language despite only being out for about 2 months.  I am very excited to be working with him and I belive this transfere will be a good one.

Wednessday:
After we had morning studies we had our district meeting.  It was really good and I am looking forward to working with this district as well.  My district composes of me, Elder Dropla, Elder Neuenschwander, and a greening Elder Simor.  After district meeting we had lunch and then language study.  We then went and surveyed for about 3 hours and then advertised for english. 

Thursday:
After our morning studies we advertised for english again by putting up posters and then then we had lunch.  While advertising though somebody didn't like what we were doing even though we were following the law and they tried to take our Bucket of glue.  They couldn't so they kicked it destroying our bucket and spilling glue everywhere.  Anyway we just bought a new bucket and it is just a fun story to tell now.  After advertising we had lunch and then language study.  We then went surveying and then had a meeting with Stefi.  The lesson went well but she doesn't have the spark to continue on her own so please pray for that.  We then went street boarding with the other elders and that was the night.

Friday:
All morning was taken up with weekly planning and then we had language study.  We then went street boarding with the other elders and then had dinner.  After dinner we met with Miroslav and had a really good lesson with him.  We watched the joseph smith prophet of the restoration film with him and the spirit was really strong.  I am hopeing to commit him to baptizim in our next meeting so please pray for luck and success.  We then went home for bed.

Saturday:
After our morning studies we had a lesson with Stefi that went terrible.  We got the information across but it just didn't feel good.  I am really loseing hope for her so please pray for her.    We then had a planning meeting with the other elders to prepare for english and we organized the missionarie and english supplies in the church.  We then street boarded for a awhile together and then went advertising for english again.  We then had dinner and bed.

Sunday:
Church was super busy.  We had a member that was less active for years come to church and we got a meeting with him for friday.  Also there was a lot of buissness that we had to do as well.  And then I met with a member and Elder Simor so Elder Simor could practice giving the first lesson.  He did great and he was really good with the language.  We then cleaned up our area book and went surveying for the rest of the night.

Again sorry for the short letter but I don't have time for a bigger one and I will right more next week.

Monday, August 15, 2011

20 Years in Bulgaria

The latest development in the Mcdonalds empire Mcdonalds in a box

All the missionaries

Dinner

Walking the streets

Me, My Grandfather, My father

The members
Well this letter is going to be a little short this week because of the 20 year celebration.  Just because if I tried to write everything it would take me forever.  So lets get started.

Monday:
Really a normal P-day we wrote, shopped, and then we made enchiladas with the other elders.  The enchiladas were really good and after that we went to the church to do a family home evening activity that all of the members had begged us to do.  Well only two showed up.  Anyway it was fun despite that and after the family home evening we went home to bed.

Tuesday:
After our studies we went around surveying and had a lot of fun doing it.  It was one of my better surveying sessions and I don't know why.  After surveying for a couple of hours we had lunch and then language study.  After that the day was fill with phone tag between us and our investagators and some surveying.  That took up most of the day.

Wednesday:
We had a meeting fall through in the morning and so we surveyed until lunch.  Elder Rothisburger was in Ruse with his family because his family had come to pick him up for his mission.  His whole family was there his brothers, sister, and parents.  It was really fun eating with them and they were really nice.  After lunch we had district meeting and then we had language study.  After that we surveyed for a little until we had a meeting with Miroslav one of our investagators.  We taught him the law of tithing, chastity, and word of wisdom.  He took it really well and seemed to understand it all.  After the meeting it was time for bed.

Thursday:
Most of the morning was taken up with packing for the 20 year celebration because we had to travel to Sofia spend the night and then go to Plovdiv were the celebration was in the morning.  So the morning was taken up with making sure we had everything we needed for three nights away from home and then we had to catch a bus all the way to Sofia which is about 6 hours away by bus.  We got in around 7:30 and went to the mission home were I finally got my package.  Thank you so much I love the otterpops I just have to controll my self now and I love the mesuring cups but most of all I love the photo album it is great and perfect.  Thank you so much mom.  Anyway we then went from the mission home to the elders apartment that we were staying at and the place we were staying at was were my Tranier or in mission jargon Father's apartment is.  He is heading home this transfere or according to mission jargon he is dieing.  So it was great to see him one last time.  Anyway that was the night.

Friday:
We got up at six in the morning so we could catch our bus to Plovdiv.  After we got to Plovdiv we first went to a shop so Elder Spencer (my father) could buy a Guveche pot that he could take home and then we checked into the hotel we were staying at.  All of the missionaries came in for the celebration so President Roth basicly bought out a whole hotel for us.  It was fun staying in a hotel and the place was pretty nice.  At twelve o'clock we all met down at the church and it was cool to see all of the missionaries.  I also got to see  my traniers cleanup companion who had came back to bulgaria for the reunion (according to mission jargon that makes him my grandma because cleanup companions are mothers, usually it only goes that far but some missionaries *cough* me add in brothers and cousins and stuff like that.  Most don't because it gets really complicated eventually but I have fun with it.  So technicly I have been serving with my half brother for the last transfere.  His tranier (father) was my clean up (mother) and because of the role change I add the term half.  Anyway I probelly get into this to much but this should help with the rest of the letter.)  After saying hello and all that we began a meeting with all the missionaries.  We first had lunch and then we all went on "rescue visits" basicly all of the missionaries spread out across Plovdiv and between us all we contacted every single inactive member and filled out either a addres relocator if they didn't live there anymore or invited them to church.  Elder Olmsted and I had five people to visit and 2 of them didn't live there any more and the other three we got to meet and invite to the event.  After the storming of Plovdiv we all met back to gether and then went to dinner.  The mission had resevered a Turkish restraunt for all the missionaries to commemorate Turkey being added to our mission.  Dinner was a ton of fun and the food was really good.  Something funny though is that we all walked there together and it was amazing to see 50 missionaries walking the streets of Plovdiv.  I don't know if that helped our image or not I don't think anybody was quite brave enough to heckle us when there were 50 of us there.  After dinner we walked back to the church and then had a two talks from the first counsler of the area presidency and his wife.  The talks were really good and I took some extinsive notes in my talk journal.  After the talks we heard the dieing missionaries testimonies and then went back to the hotel for bed.

Saturday:
So many people!!!!  Wow there were a ton of people there.  We got up and then went to the hotel were the celebration was being held and I stood by the doors to guide people in and greet them.  There were tons we had around 400-450 members there.  It was so cool to see everybody and I was so happy to see my former investagators from previous cities baptized and unbaptized there.  Sister Lawrence (the area presidentsies first conseler's wife) said in her talk that the joy she saw in members greating past missionaries was a type of the pure joy we will have in the kindom of god and I can say that it certanly felt that way.  After everybody was seated we listened to some talks and from the mission presidency and area presidency and then we all went to the church building for lunch.  We got to socilize there and also I got to meet my grandpa on my fathers side.  His name is Robbie Briggs and My father Elder Spencer killed him (served with him his dieing transfere) and it was so cool to see him.  I have a family picture that I will send so you will get to see him and forgive him for the beard his razor got stolen on the way to Bulgaria but other than that it was so fun to see him.  After lunch and talking with everybody we went back to the church to here testimonies from some preselected members and then we heard President Lawrences testimony and he gave the mission and country a blessing that was really cool to hear and I wrote all the main parts down.  We then had to run to catch a bus back to sofia and then a train back to Ruse.  It was hetic and we finally got home around 3 in the morning.  So we went to bed as soon as we unpacked.

Sunday:
Woke up finding out I had slept past my alarm by half an hour and then we got ready for church.  Church was short because of the night train we had to take because we wanted the members to be able to get some sleep.  So we just had sacrament and going away testimonies from the leaving missionaries.  Oh yea I forgot we got our transfere calls on Friday while we were all together.  We got them in a personalized letter from President Roth and I am going to stay in Ruse and I am going to clean up Elder Dropla, so I am going to be a mom YEA!!!  Anyway after church the other elders said there good byes and then we went home for lunch.  Oh a miricale that happened is that a member that has been inactive for years because of a doctrinale issue came to church and he said he would come again next week.  That was amazing and all of the members were shocked.  Anyway his name is Tihomir and please pray for him.  Anyway after lunch we surveyed all day and then had a final dinner with the other elders.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The First Week of August

Well this week was good and a lot better than last week dispite nobody wanting to talk to us.  So lets begin with the weekly rack up.

Monday:
After writing you guys we met with our branch president a little and then went shopping for some new pants for me.  I found a pair for 20 lev (about 15.5 dollars) that fit a little tight, but seeing as I am still losing wieght I decided to risk it.  Speaking of weight my current weight is 193.6 pounds.  That means I have lost around 44.5 pounds on my mission and with in a year. That is alot and I hope to still keep losing but maybe just another 20 if I lost 40 more I would just be a twig and that wouldn't be good.  Anyway after shopping we watched movies and then went to work.  We surveyed for an hour then had another MIA (mutual Improvement Activity)  playing basketball with some members and their non-member friends.  I managed to play two 21 point games competively with out becoming exhausted and still able to play.  I love getting skinny and fit I can finally do stuff.  That was our night though.  Oh stefi also came but she just watched (she is an investagator.)  She says we are like family to her and that she really wants to be baptized the problem is she doesn't come to meetings.  Anyway that was monday lets go on to tuesday.  Oh our phone got fixed too so we are no longer phone less.  YEAAA!!!

Tuesday:
We had a meeting in the morning at 9:00 am that fell through so after finishing our studies we went to teh investagators place of work (an Ice-cream stand!) and reschedualed for 8 that night we then surveyed until two o'clock.  We met a really cool guy that agreed to meet with us on thursday.  At 2 we met the other elders and planned for a branch activity on saturday.  At 4 we met with our branch president and at 5 we had a meeting fall through.  So we had dinner with the other elders and practiced the jeopardy game we made for the branch activity.  Then at eight we had our meeting with Naliya (Ice-cream lady) the meeting went great and we rescheaduled for next wednesdasy.  Then we went home to bed.

Wednesday:
The day started off normal enough.  We had district meetign, lunch, and then language study.  We then met with Mitko at the church and when we got there the other elders were there and they had let in a bunch of boys we call the Malkey-tay (means children, litteraly means littles.)  That is not a term of inderment though.  They are all between 12-15 and lets just say I ended up by the door to the downstairs (they were all upstairs) making sure none would come in because they would steal stuff.  The other elders had let then in because they always spred lies and bad rumors about us and tease Mitko mercicessly about the church,  in hopes that if we were nice to them they would stop doing that.  Yea, from now on they aren't allowed back in the church and I will leave it at that.  We then surveyed for an hour and then had english which was wonderful as always,  After english we had dinner then went to bed.

Thursday:
In the morning we typed up our tests for enlish, had lunch, and then had a meeting fall through.  So we surveyed a little and then had a meeting with Stefi.  She rally wants to get baptized but she won't read, pray, or come to church.  So we told her strait up unless she did these things we couldn't baptize her.  We did nicely but still strict, because she needst to be doing these things to have a testimony.  After the meeting we did a mock set up of the branch activity to see if it would work.  We are doing an iron rod activity were we have a rope going through the church and they have to walk the courch blind folded holding onto the rope.  Well it works just fine so we came back home and during language study and dinner I made chocolate chip cookies for the party,  now lets see if they make it till saturday.

Friday:
After the morning studies we panned for the week, had language study, and lunch.  We then checked bus times to figure out how we are getting to Plovdiv next week for the 20 year celebration.  Then we were at the church so President Yosivof could confirm Mitko's Mini mission (he just serves for 1 transfere here in Bulgaria.)  President Roth said yes which is great because this is going to help Mitko a ton.  We then surveyed, fixed the english poster, and had dinner.  After dinner we had a MIA but only Sevda and Mitko (both members) came.  After that we headed home for the night.  When we got in we found out though that the phone had fallen out of my pocket at the church and we had to run there in full Profs (short for proseliting clothes.)  We got there and ran back home and we were still late for call ins oh well at least we found out immeditly and not any later.  That was Friday.
Saturday:
Was good.  After morning studies we had english which was kind of boring because we just had tests and so we just had to sit around and wait.  After english we cleaned the church and then went surveying for the rest of the day.  At 5:00 we came back to the church to set up for the branch activity.  We did the Iron rod activity and the reward was one of my cookies (yes they did make it, it just took half a roll of plastic wrap and being stashed out of sight so I didn't eat them.  After the Iron rod activity we played Jepordy with the Book of Mormon.  The members loved it even though it was very low key for us missionaries.  We then cleaned everything up and headed home for the night.

Sunday:
Well first there was church and I bore my testimony and taught the priesthood lesson.  Then after church we figured out who was going to Plovdiv for the 20 year celebration so we could be able to prepare for that many.  Then Elder Olmstead and I  went surveying for a couple of hours, helped prepare Mitko for his mini-mission by going over the preach my gospel with him and showing him how to use it.  We then surveyed some more until we had a Home teaching appointmen with a member.  After that we went in fro dinner to the other elders apartment because Elder karajov had a story for us about how he met his "biggest cruch ever" randomly on the street, where as she doesn't live in Ruse but just in Sofia, and that was sunday:

Love you all,
Elder Austin James Ewell

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1

Well I am officialy a year old in the mission and now anything I see in bulgaria will be the last time I will see it in bulgaria so now every day is my last day in bulgaria.  Makes one think doesn't it.  Well with this thinking I better start working hard.  So lets get started with the week.

Monday:
After writing you guys we hung out with the other elders and had pizza.  We then went to work and had a meeting fall through so we surveyed and then had a mutual improvment activity playing basketball with some of our investagators and members.  Then it was time for bed.  We stayed at the other elders apartment because we didn't have enough time to get home in time and we had splits on tuesday.

Tuesday:
After getting ready for the day Elder Karajov and I surveyed a little and then had a meeting with a potential investagator of the other elders.  The first half of the lesson went well but when we asked him to read the book of mormon he started arguing with us.  That took a while and afterwards we had lunch and language study.  We then surveyed a little until we had dinner then a meeting with Miroslav.  The meeting was great because I got to hear a little of his testimony.  After the meeting we met up with the other elders to end splits and the day.

Wednesday:
After our morning studies we had district meeting.  After that lunch language study, surveying, and english and that was the day.

Thursday:
Well it was my year mark on my mission and the slippery slop begins.  The day was normal we surveyed until lunch and language study.  Then we met with Mitko.  After meeting with him we planned with the other elders for a branch activity this saturday (the 6th.)  After planning we had seminary and then the other elders came over so Elder Hubert and I could celebrate our year mark.  After dinner/celebrating it was time for bed.

Friday:
After our morning studies we surveyed and met with a investagator named Nickolie.  We taught a little and then made sure he knew where the church was so he could come to church on sunday.  After meeting with him we surveyed back home and then we had lunch and weekly planning.  We then surveyed a little then we had another MIA (Mutual improvent activity.)  We had another one this week because some older missionaries were in town for the twenty year clebration in two weeks.  So with them here we were able to get half of the young active members to come and also Miroslav came which was great because we need to find him some friends in the branch.  After basketball we went home to bed.  Oh yea my camra broke again today.  Don't worry it is getting fixed I am just with out it for awhile.

Saturday:
We had a meeting at nine am because that was the only time that the lady could meet with us.  Her name is Naliya and she works at one of the ice cream stands from 10 to 8 every day.  We met her at the Panthieon that was outside of our apartment.  I felt really good about her and the lesson went well.  We also gave her a book of mormon and latter in the day I think I saw her reading it at her stand.  After the meeting we prepared for english and then had english.  English was alright as normal.  Something funny though one of my english students asked me to name all the animals in Utah.  Yea about an hour latter I was burned out with thinking and they had about a hundred new vocab words.  After english we cleaned the building and then surveyed all day and mangaged to get all the way to the highest point in Ruse and were rewarded wtih amazing view to bad my camra had broke again.  We got back in around 6 to finish the rest of our studies and have dinner then go to bed.

Sunday:
Well Church was great as always and after church a member fed us lunch.  Some more bad news though is Elder Olmstead forgot the pin to our phone and put it in wrong three times and locked off our phone until we can get the new code.  The problem is the only person that can get it works in Sofia and is on vacation.  So Elder Olmstead and I are with out a phone for a while which will make things interesting.  Because of that we had to stay at the other elders apartment so we could report our weekly numbers. 

That was my week and I don't have much more time to write so see you all next week
Love,
Elder Austin James Ewell