Monday, December 24, 2012

I really like it here!

The new area is way cool I really like it here, it is way smaller than Sofia and it's pretty cold which really stinks because we only have one investigator and that means we're outside almost all day contacting but it's all good I've got a warm coat and all so no worries!
The branch here is way cool.  We have some way nice members (there aren't any wards in Bulgaria yet), we had about 11 members at church on Sunday (there are more some are just gone for the holidays).  I didn't have to speak at church this week, we watched the Christmas devotional from the first presidency after the sacrament. Since it's so small, I've already met most of the members between church and the Christmas party we had on Sat. and I am way excited to be out here!
Our investigator is way cool, he is from Pakistan and he is Muslim which is pretty tough but he is way nice and a great guy. My new companion is cool, he is from Idaho and he actually is only one group ahead of me so two months ahead. He's the second youngest in his family and he played the trombone in marching band and he did wrestling and was pretty good at both of those. I'm not really sure what else to say.
Half of the district here (6 missionaries) are from my MTC group, two others are from the group ahead of me and the district leader has been out for a bit over a year so we have a really young district! My MTC companion is out here too so it is good to see him again he is way fun and everyone here is super cool so I am pretty excited for this transfer!
For Christmas they have pretty much the same traditions as in America, I haven't really seen or heard of anything different except they do hand out little fortunes on the streets because it's Christmas time.
New years here is way bigger though, they have some interesting stuff like hitting their grandparents with decorated sticks and singing a song then they get some money or something from them. Ha ha it's not bad though they have thin little things that babas sell on the street and they don't really hit them it's more of a light tap thing.
Yeah so... have some good questions for tomorrow because we've got 40 min and I don't know what I would talk about. Have an awesome Christmas eve and morning and I will talk to you tomorrow!

Love you all!
Старейшина Максуел

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heading over to Burgas!

This week I get to head over to the sea to serve in Burgas with Elder Peterson so I will leave tomorrow for that! That Christmas package was huge and don't worry I didn't open it yet but I did have Elder Wheat check in it to see if there were individual packages inside.  It was good to find out that there was, it will be a little bit easier to transport it like that!

From what I have heard Burgas has some way awesome members and I have met a couple already and actually the clerk here in Sofia is from Burgas, when I was helping him out yesterday he was telling me all about it and he actually is going to be out there for Christmas so I will see him again on Sunday! It is kind of strange to think that I will be leaving Sofia, it is so cool here and we have some way awesome investigators but Elder Babbitt will be staying and take care of them. I will for sure miss Sofia but I am excited to go to Burgas! We will be able to skpe on Christmas day so I will let you know next Monday when I write what time for sure we will call around!

It's crazy to think this time last year I had just been finishing up my first semester of school.  The time goes by way fast and I'm very excited that Ethan and Nick and a bunch of people from Oregon are going on their missions! It really is an incredible experience and I am glad that they are going too!
So this last week was really good we had some pretty good lessons at the beginning of the week and we had a lot of contacting for the last bit but it is pretty hard to get people to stop when it is so cold out. I hear it is warmer in Burgas though so that will be good! We got to have dinner with President and Sister Wilstead last night and the assistants and they are so cool I am really glad I will have them for the whole two years it's too bad that I'll be way out in Burgas, I probably won't see them around quite as much . Other than that things have been pretty normal and it's all going well out here!

Have an awesome week with one Elder Maxwell returning and hopefully you will be able to get everything all set for Christmas, it will be a busy week! I love you all and thank you for all you do!!

Love from,
Старейшина Максуел

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I love zone conferences!

So we had Zone Conference yesterday and it was really good I love zone conferences and I also am extremely jealous of dad and my companion because last night we had an investigator we had invited to FHE at the mission home and I couldn't go because dad would be there meeting the mission president. So I was on splits with a different elder and then that night when I got back with Babbitt he told me he had dad in a lesson with our investigator because he speaks french like our guy and so they had him help translate and teach because the investigators English wasn't perfect. I'm pretty jealous of all the elders here who got to see him and all so I might have to repent with you mom!

Disclaimer from Mom:  While I was writing to Christian, I asked Ian if there was anything he wanted to ask him and Ian said to ask him what he was doing "right now", which would have been 3am Christian's time.  Christian's answer made me laugh so I had to include it in the blog!

Ian, I would have been sleeping but a giant spider got into our apartment and tried stealing my bed so I had to wrestle him to the ground and tie him up with his own web so he couldn't bite me then I cooked him up and I tossed him out the window into the snow for the dogs and cats to fight over. It was pretty cool, he was really big and hairy.

This week was really good, we've been really working on getting a lot of members involved in our lessons and I wish that I had done it sooner. Members are so important in missionary work so be sure and keep up with the misisonaries and make sure that they know you want to help with their investigators! And Ben and Alan for sure you should go out with the elders and show them how its done! Sorry dad I didn't let you know about the weather we actually got our first snow last Monday and it has been pretty cold since then I was actually worried when I thought about you coming from India that you wouldn't have anything too warm to wear I'm glad the layers worked for you! We've been doing a bit more tracting especially after dark because it's colder and not many people will stop and talk, it's not my favorite and there isn't very much success from it either but there is some.

We got to watch the Christmas devotional from the first presidency in church and it was all translated into Bulgarian but I could actually understand what they were saying!! Oh and also our older guy that was baptized got to pass the sacrament this week for the first time and that was way neat having the members and all teach him how to do it and to watch him pass it!! There's not really too much else new I guess... we get transfer calls this weekend so I will find out if I am staying in Sofia or going somewhere else! The work is going good and I am glad to be here in Bulgaria to help build the kingdom of the Lord!

Love you all!
Старейшина Максуел

Monday, December 10, 2012

No letter from Christian, but...

Christian had Zone Conference today so I am subbing in a letter from his dad, who happens to be in Bulgaria on business...

Today I am in Sofia Bulgaria.  Someone forgot to tell me it is cold here.  I looked at the weather report a couple of weeks ago when I was packing for my trip to India and Bulgaria.  I distinctly remember seeing temperatures in the 50s (10-15 degrees Celsius).  I packed accordingly and brought a nice little black hoodie.  When I arrived in Sofia last night, having traveled from 35 degree Celsius weather in Cochin, India, it was a whooping 2 degrees Celsius here in Sofia.   Burr, I was definitely not expecting that.  Still, I put on my hoodie and took a walk down Vitosha Blvd to check out some of the sites in the center of the city.  It was cold, but manageable.

I also decided that today I could walk to Church.  It was only about a 20 minute walk I figured, and it would save me having to pay for a taxi on the Sabbath.  I enjoyed the brisk walk to the church, and managed to stay warm through creativity.  I put my hoodie on under my suit coat.  I am sure I was quite the sight wearing a nice suit with a black hoodie coming up and out of the suit over my head.  I went to the Sofia 2nd branch at the direction of the mission president here, President Wilstead, and apart from having a little bit of a hard time finding the entrance once I was at the address—I finally ended up following someone else dressed in a white shirt and a tie that I figured was probably a member—I had a great time at Church.  Elder Maxwell was not there, since he is assigned to the 1st branch, but just about everyone I talked with, knew Elder Maxwell.  And, amazingly enough, they had great things to say about him.  : )    Actually, I was not surprised at all, the Elder Maxwells of the world are great missionaries!   

There were 4 missionaries at the branch.  Two were in the same district with Elder Maxwell at the MTC, a third has actually worked with Elder Maxwell on splits and knows him from those experiences.  The family that had the missionaries over for Thanksgiving complimented Elder Maxwell on being quick to jump up and help with dishes.  That is always a sure sign of a good person—right Opa?  A couple persons took their picture with me so they could share it with Elder Maxwell when they next saw him.  I have to say that I was really impressed with the kindness and goodness of the Saints.  I was very glad to be there.  Not knowing any Bulgarian was not an issue either.  Because a couple families in the branch also don’t speak Bulgarian, they already had interpreters set up for each of the meetings.  They even asked me to say the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting.  I also picked up my first words in Bulgarian.  I can now say thank you.

The Church was cold.  The heaters weren’t working so all they had were a couple small electric space heaters to try and warm the place.  By the end of the 3 hours I was really cold.  I walked back to the hotel after Church with another member who lives near where I am staying.  She speaks pretty good English so I was able to learn more about Bulgaria and the Church in Bulgaria from her.  She walked very slowly though and the wind had really picked up so by the time I was back to the hotel, I was frozen.  We passed a thermometer display on the way back and it read -5 degrees Celsius.  With the frigid wind it felt even colder.

I warmed up for an hour or so in my hotel room (it is a very warm room), and then decided to venture out again on one more walk.  To ensure I stayed warm, I put on two pair of socks, and a pair of pajamas underneath my clothes.  It worked great!  I took a walk over to the Vasil Levski National Stadium.  I know Elder Maxwell had once commented that his apartment was near the stadium, so while I knew I couldn’t seek him out to see him (since it is against Church guidance), I figured I could at least walk some of the same streets and see some of the same sights.  I am glad I got to do it.  Sofia is a beautiful city.  It is almost like I am walking down a city street in Germany or France.  Except for everything being written in Cyrillic and me not being able to read any of it, it feels very much the same.  It started snowing while I was out and there was probably a half inch on the sidewalks by the time I returned. 

Elder Maxwell, the elder, returns home in just over a week!  It is impossible for me to believe that it has already been two years!!!  The time passes so quickly.  It really reinforces the point that we need to live every day to the fullest.  There is not a moment to waste.  It is so easy to let a day pass with idle or unimportant work, we just can’t afford to do it.  Every day we need to strive to learn a little more, live a little better, and love and serve a little more completely.  Perfection can only be reached with a lot of diligent effort, and of course an amazing portion of God’s grace.  How thankful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for His restored Church, and for a family that embraces light and love as we help each other and those around us, down the path towards perfection.  Nothing gives me greater joy than the promise of an eternal family.


Elden was also able to meet with the Mission President today and deliver our Christmas gifts for Christian.  He had some fun experiences teaching Christian's investigator in French, with Christian's companion and also meeting many members and missionaries at the mission office.  (All while working carefully to NOT run into Christian!) 

Monday, December 3, 2012

This week was pretty good, it had a lot of ups and downs.

This week was pretty good, it had a lot of ups and downs.  One of the senior missionaries passed away but fortunately they had just gone home for one of their sons sealings and that weekend before they came back he passed away in his sleep which was a tender mercy to his wife to not have to worry about getting him back home and being able to be home with family. We also had a few really cool people that we got to meet with this week and we have some sweet new investigators!
Oh and this week - crazy story - we were heading home for dinner and it was pretty dark and I saw this rat run past and a cat was chasing it so... we followed them!   The cat cornered the rat but then the rat jumped up and attacked the cats face and totally scared it off! So then... I went over and stomped kinda close to the rat to try and scare it off and it jumped at me and was all hissing and growling at me, then it ran off it was pretty cool! But otherwise the week has been good a little bit rainy but the work is going well!

Love to everyone!
Старейшина Максуел