Monday, June 2, 2014

Going to finish this marathon with a sprint!

Bulgarian BBQ, missionary style!
We had a little barbecue last preparation day with the other Elders to celebrate memorial day. Not the best barbecue (our food got a little ashy) but it was still tasty!
This week was pretty good our investigators were all pretty busy and we didn't get to see them much but one of them that we recently started teaching came to church and he really liked it and he is progressing very well!
Also this week we were luck to have an East Europe Priesthood training meeting broadcast so we traveled into Varna to watch that there as we don't have the equipment here and plus we are a part of the Varna branch because we are only a group. The meeting was very good there were a few seventies and Elder Bednar there and the French guy from the presiding bishopric (I cant remember his name) it was really neat how they ran it based on the needs and concerns of the area and they used input from everyone (we could send in questions and comments) I learned a lot and it was good for the members that came!
We also had a ton of rain this week we had a couple days of straight pouring rain and that was a bit of a hamper for us in finding new people but we were blessed and were able to find a number of people, one guy we even were able to have a lesson with at a bus stop under the cover there! So just like you said the Lord will bless us when we give it our all, even if it is in a way that we don't expect! We've got a good week in front of us too as we've got a lot of lessons already set up and our investigators are a bit more free too so we're going to finish this marathon with a sprint!
The district here will hopefully have a  couple baptisms this month and the members are doing well, we've had the third hour three weeks in a row now (only with two or three of the members) but that is better than not having it at all! I can't really think of anything else that is new or really sticks out my companion is doing well I really want to help him become a better missionary than I am/was and so I try to give him advice and such a lot ( he may be getting a little annoyed with me but it is for his own good and I try to do it in a constructive way) but we get along alright and work through any concerns we have so it is all good!
Also, so you know next week I probably won't write because I will be traveling into Sofia and then there usually is an evening of stuff for departing missionaries but you will hear from me soon enough! I am excited to see you all and to give you all hugs, one request that I do have is that there will be some cheerio treat (or at least the ingredients) at home, marshmallows don't really exist here and I've just been craving some cheerio treat. But enough about that!

Love you all lots! Have a  great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I got to play the piano...and it was okay.

We had an activity this week where we taught how to start doing family history.  The resources are pretty limited here but there is still a lot that the members can do and most of them that came had never done anything so we helped them figure out what they can do to get going on that. Hopefully it was helpful for them! And a few less actives came so it was good for them at least. I was a bit dissapointed in our investigators though, only one came and the rest flaked on us, but not too much you can do about that.
Other than that, our week was good, the weather was great  (very hot and only a few thunderstorms) so I'm starting up my tan.  I've got some pretty good lines already, especially on my neck, as the lower half is white and then above the collar I've got a great tan. It'll be pretty obvious when I'm going around with a t-shirt!
We found some cool people this week, although sadly one lady we had started meeting with, we only had a couple meetings with her before her husband asked us to not come over anymore.  He is aethiest and would listen but he didn't have the desire that his wife had.  I am sure they both felt the spirit and someday he may remember that and want to learn more.
At church I got to play the piano! Nate keep up that practice and it will serve you well. And it was okay, I used the simplified book and was able to get through a few songs so I am grateful that I at least have a basic knowledge of the piano but I could be much better!
We had the zone leader come and do some exchanges with us this week and it was good, we had a great day! Overall, it was a good week and hopefuly they will only get better! 

Have a great week and keep being awesome!! 
Love you! 
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 19, 2014

I'm doing well and I'm happy!

I feel like May is a pretty busy month here, they have at least one or two holidays or concerts or something a day here, today we had to go to the internet zala to write because it is the holiday of the book and the library wont be open till later then Saturday, there is the holiday for the alphabet, plus there are elections going on so there are a ton of political groups doing campaigns and such everywhere. Kind of a crazy month,

The week was a pretty average one for us, the weather was a pain though. It would be cloudy in the morning and then it would get super hot or it would start sunny then, out of no where, a pouring thunderstorm.  So, we basically have never been dressed or prepared for the weather this week. We didn't really find many new people this week, they were kind of like the weather one day really interested and the next not showing up to meetings or not being interested. But thats just how it is, we will work hard and strive to continually improve and we'll find those who are prepared.

We had the zone training this week and it was good, it was pretty refreshing being on the receiving end instead of the training so that was nice. Although as it was my last zone meeting all, the Elders in the zone from my group had time to share our testimonies with everyone. I can remember my trainer doing that at the end of my first transfer and it seems like it wasn't that long ago. Where have those years gone!

Other than that not too much new from this week I'm doing well and I'm happy!

Love you all, Have a great week!!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, May 12, 2014

It was good talking with you a bit.

Not too much new since I talked with you all yesterday, it was really good to see you all and I am still amazed at how much everyone has grown it is like they are different people but also the brothers and sisters that I have always known! It was good talking with you a bit.

So, I don't really have too much to say about the week, I guess I could tell you a little bit about the guy that we gave the baptismal date to. So last Sunday, on our way to church, we left a little bit early so we could talk to people on the way there and get everything set up and we had just barely left the apartment when we started talking to this guy. He asked us who we were and what we were doing so we quickly explained and invited him to come to church with us and he agreed and came! And he really liked it! It was fast Sunday and he was enjoying the testimonies and he got up and shared how he was looking for the truth and he was glad that he had run into us that morning. So we met with him during the week and began teaching him and he really wants a change in his life to leave behind his old vices and such and he has been looking for the right church and every time we meet he shares how he feels the spirit, how he wants to learn more! Sadly the other Elders are going to continue teaching him, as he lives in their area, but I am sure there are many others who are prepared just like him to learn and accept the gospel so all we have to do is find them and I'm sure as we work hard and do what we are supposed to the Lord will place these people in our path!

Oh, one thing from last night, yesterday was Shumen Day so last night they had a big concert just down the street from our apartment and they were launching huge fireworks off from the roof of the building across from us it was cool but a little bit challenging to get to sleep!

Thank you for your wonderful examples and I hope that you had a great Mother's Day!! Love you lots!!

Elder Максуел

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Serving with him makes me feel really old!

So I finally get to write!! They have a lot of holidays this time of the year, 2 weeks ago with Easter, last week 2 days for Labor day and this week 2 days for Georgiov den, so its been a little bit harder finding people since the city has been deserted for the last 6 days, plus we have had a lot of rain! On Sunday actually (crazy story), we were going to find a less active to try and have a lesson with a contact (up on a hill on the other side of the city) and it was cloudy when we set out luckily I had grabbed my umbrella because it started raining, then it started hailing, then the hail got harder and it was huge like almost gumball sized and then it turned to pounding rain and the hill we were going up turned into a rushing river!  Needless to say, we got soaked even with our umbrellas but we found the contact so it's all good and the only bad part is that my companions shoes were moldy yesterday morning because he didn't dry them off at all.  So, there's a little story for you. 

My new area is pretty nice, it is very calm here in Shumen and the people are very nice. Although, there are tons of Muslims and people of Turkish descent so I've been trying to pick up a little Turkish but it's kind of a weird language and I can only say a few things. Muslims are very nice but they don't really have much of an interest to learn more about Christ. The city is pretty small and our area is about the size of one or two of the neighborhoods that were in my area in Sofia (my area in Sofia was probably double the size of the whole city of Shumen if not more!) And the water tastes a bit weird here, kind of like the Utah water, but I'll get used to it. 

Church was interesting here, there were only 13 of us at church and that is with 4 missionaries and 3 investigators. I got to bless the sacrament and conduct the music and next Sunday I may have to play the piano and give a talk! The members here are nice and I am excited to get to work with them. Also church here usually is only the first two hours because most of the members will only stay that long and last week we also got to teach the lesson in second hour so I am keeping busy in church on Sundays! We have a room that is rented where we meet it is actually pretty big and there is even a downstairs basement with a couple rooms so our building is pretty nice!

My new companion is Elder Johnson.  He is from Payson, Utah and the oldest of five boys. he is a good missionary he has been out for a year now. He is cool, he likes to read and has a lot of ideas for what he might be in the future but he's not really sure yet. He went to BYU for a bit before his mission (after I was already gone) and overall serving with him makes me feel really old. 
I will see you all on Sunday.  Sorry for the delay for this letter but I had no choice, nothing has been open for the last few days, but better late than never right!
Have a great week! Love you!!
Elder Максуел
(there you go Ben now you are more unique)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

St George's Day‏!

It was a disappointing start today when Katie got a message from the mission home in Bulgaria that we wouldn’t be hearing from Christian until Wednesday.  What’s up with that?  So, I did a little digging and here is what I have discovered.

He and the rest of Bulgaria are taking off today and tomorrow to celebrate St George, his victory over the dragon, and all the other wonderful things he may have accomplished so long ago. 

 According to Wikipedia:

St George’s Day (Гергьовден, Gergyovden) is possibly the most celebrated name day in Bulgaria.  It is a public holiday that takes place on 6 May each year. A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb, which is an ancient practice possibly related to Slavic pagan sacrificial traditions and the fact that St George is the patron saint of shepherds. It is also believed to be a magical day when all evil spells can be broken. It was believed that the saint helps the crops to grow and blesses the morning dew, so early in the morning they walked in the pastures and meadows and collected dew, washed their face, hands and feet in it for good luck and even in some rural parts of Bulgaria it was a custom to roll in it naked.

So, since Elder Maxwell is serving in rural Bulgaria now, we just have to assume that he and his companion today are getting ready to roll in the dew tomorrow and soak up all that good luck for the coming year.  Then they can go visit some folks and eat a whole lamb with them.  Right?!      : )

Happy St George’s Day Everyone!


Monday, April 28, 2014

So this is it, the final transfer! Weird!

So this is it, the final transfer!  Weird! I am going to be in Shumen, I have gone there before on exchanges.  It's a pretty little city although, they only have a group there so it'll be my first group city! I am going to be serving with Elder Johnson and I don't really know much about him, just that he's from Utah and that's about it. Next week I can get you some updates on that.

This week was good, we had one of our new investigators commit to baptism yesterday so that was really cool although they haven't accepted a date yet they felt that it was still too early but they are incredibly prepared and have a strong desire to follow Christ!

We also were able to get in to a less actives house that we have been trying to meet for a long time and that was really good. It will take some time with him to get him back fully active but he is very nice and still loves the church he just has a few concerns and hasn't been in a long time and feels like he won't know anyone and is to old to make new friends, but we will see about that!
Wow, it's crazy how fast time flies, and I'm going to finish - giving it all I've got!  It'll be good in Shumen, I'm very excited!

So yeah it's exciting, I love you and hope that you have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter (a day late)!! I hope you had a good day and it sounds like church was really good! I got to translate for all three hours again sometimes I get a break in the second hour in gospel principles but this week we had some investigators and visitors I got to translate for!! So it was a fun and good Sunday! We had a lot of rain this week four days of non stop rain but that didn't stop us and we were able to find and teach a lot of people! It was one of the better weeks that we have had! For Easter here I can't remember if I told you all last year but they dye the boiled eggs then you choose an egg and take turns knocking the eggs together with others and the last person with the unbroken egg gets a "zhiva i zdrava godina" жива и здрава година.  So that ıs a fun lıttle tradıtıon they  have here!

Other exciting things from this week we had zone conference and it went really well we learned a lot of how to work more with members to find new investigators by helping them to share the gospel with their friends and family! Also as the assistants were out the rest of the week to the other conferences so we took care of a couple of their investigators while they were gone. It is cool they are working with one guy in Germany who has been coming to the church there for a couple years but he doesn't know any German and so we have skype lessons with him to teach him the gospel. It is so cool because even though he doesn't know German he feels the spirit as he attends and as we have the lessons with him on skype he is so happy to be able to learn more and to discuss these things in his language! So that was really cool being able to teach him a couple lessons this week!

So we get transfer calls on Saturday so that is when I will find out where I get to finish my mission! I hope to be able to stay here or to go back to one of the cities where I have already been but we will see what the lord has in store!! As much as I would love to go to turkey there basically is no way I would get to go there but I will see Elder Bennion soon enough!

Love You!! Have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 14, 2014

That was pretty exciting and I am never missing a night of brushing or flossing ever again!

This week went by really fast with some pretty interesting events! First of all at the beginning of the week my companions tooth was really bothering him so we went in to a Swedish dentist that a member recommended and my companion ended up getting a root canal without anything to numb it!  That was pretty exciting and I am never missing a night of brushing or flossing ever again! It wasn't really that bad the dentist was actually really cool and really good but still I would prefer to not ever have to go in for anything. It was funny, before they had the root canal, they sang a song in Swedish together, Austin might know it, something about a Lucia or something like that it was pretty funny.

This week, we went down to Pazardzhik for some exchanges and that was good, it's a pretty small city, actually most of the cities in Bulgaria are pretty small in comparison to Sofia, I've mostly just served in the bigger cities so I can't complain.

So, with all of that and our other responsibilities and a weekend full of conference our open time was very limited.  We are still working on finding new investigators but we had some good lessons with members and this next week we should be having some lessons with  a couple of them and their friends!
Conference was really good, I really enjoyed it and I especially liked Elder Ballards talk on Sunday morning ( I liked them all a lot) but in relation with his talk, do you, as a family and personally, use and study Preach my Gospel? If you do, keep doing it you are awesome, if not, now is a great time to start! And I can promise that it will help you in your missionary efforts and grow your testimonies and strengthen the family!

One of the best things from this week was probably getting back in contact with a less active who was baptized as a kid and now is 26 but hasn't really ever been active.  He is really cool and we were able to meet with him a couple times and he came to the Saturday morning session of conference with us!
My companion is doing well he is very unique and occasionally our personalities clash but that is normal and the work continues! I've learned some principles of chess but I don't really play him ever, he is pretty ridiculously good!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you lots!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, April 7, 2014

I got some Sweet Baby Rays barbeque sauce!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes, and don't worry I had a very good day.  My companion told everyone that it was my birthday so everyone knew.  We got to go to the Shultz's for dinner (one of the American families from the embassy) and they fed us very well ( wings, potatoes and beef!!) and they let us pick something from their pantry so I got some Sweet Baby Rays barbeque sauce, I am excited to use that!!  I did get the package and I have so much candy I don't know what to do with it all!! I may gain a little bit of weight.

Also, cool thing from this week we have a less active that we met (who was brought to church by another member) way back in January and we had been trying to meet with him but never could get anything set up. But when we would see him in church we would always say hi and when I got a new companion I introduced them to each other and the next week when my companion saw him he said hi and called him by name and he was so surprised that he had remembered his name and then that week when we called him he asked US when we could meet! So that was really cool meeting with him and seeing how us knowing his name and saying hi to him had really made the difference for him!! So always be friendly and say hi to as many people as you can at church especially the ones that you may not know as well or even at all!
For conference, we are going to be watching it this weekend - like it is watched in the US, only we are doing it a week later, so that's a bit different for us this year. So... I haven't seen any of it yet.  But I will get to see it next weekend!!

Other than that, the week was pretty good, we had some exchanges up in Pleven and those went well it's a nice little city! We don't have a lot of investigators right now and the ones we are working with we cant meet them too often and so they are progressing a little bit slower but we are doing are best and are planning on working a lot with members this week to find some new investigators!
I love you all, have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 31, 2014

Finally a Real Missionary!

 A member had his bike at the church and let me take it for a spin
( I'm a real missionary now that I've ridden a bike in a suit!)
This week was pretty good, our investigator got baptized and confirmed!!!

We need to find some new investigators though, we've been talking with lots of people and getting contact from them but they either keep putting us off or don't show up to our lessons! But we will keep trying and seeking for ways to improve and the investigators will come, hopefully with their families!! We went to Pazardzhik this week to do a baptismal interview there and that went well, it's a nice little town and then we had to hurry back to get to our lessons, we almost missed our train getting back but luckily we made it! We had some pretty good lessons this week although we are still trying to find more less actives to work with. It is the same with a lot of them as with our potential investigators they either are busy this week or they don't show up or are never home when we stop by. But that won't stop us, we will figure out a way to meet with them!

Also, a cool experience from this week, but first an explanation so we in the mission are really pushing to have FHE (Family Home Evening)  with the members investigators or really basically anyone we can, so on Monday we had planned to go and have a family home evening with a family in our area and with one of their friends and about an hour or so before they called and cancelled on us so as our back up plan we a had a family we had tracted into that we thought to go try. So we bought some treats and went to go see them but we couldn't get in with them. But we still wanted to have a FHE and we had prayed to be able to have one before we had left so we decided that we would try finding another family through tracting so we were talking with all the people we met on the streets and trying all the blocks but all of the blocks in the area were locked. That went on for a half hour or so but then we saw a man coming with his son and we stopped him and started talking with him and out of the blue he invites us to come over to his apartment! So we went with him and his son had a little FHE with them!!

Things are going well, the weather here is nice, a couple days were a little chilly this week but overall it's quite nice. It is good serving with Elder Gustafsson he is a lot of fun and a very good obedient missionary! He makes Swedish pancakes every Sunday, they basically are the same as crepes just a little bit more sugar and he cooks them with a lot of oil. you may have to check with Austin on those I think he just does that because his pans back home weren't stick free. But however it is they are good!
Love you!! Have a great week!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tomorrow I will probably have a different favorite tie.

Ian my favorite tie is long and a few inches thick at the bottom but it is skinnier at the top. It has some blue on it and some grey and some black. Also tomorrow I will probably have a different favorite tie.

So spring pretty much is here, it's getting pretty warm.  Today is a bit cloudy but overall the weather has been very pleasant. They already are hanging up the martinitsi (tassel things) that is from baba marta (grandma march) which is the first of March.

So a little bit more about my new companion, he is from Riverton, Utah and his dad is Swedish.  He says he knows a little Swedish but has forgotten most of it as he has learned Bulgarian. He is a chess player and that is what he did before his mission, tournaments and teaching chess lessons, so by the end of this transfer I hope to be a little better at chess! He is super enthusiastic and energetic so even if I wanted to be trunky, there is no way that it would happen, but I would never want that, there is too much work to be done and the time is running out quickly!

So we have a baptism this Saturday with an investigator we worked with back in January who had a couple barriers preventing them from entering into the waters of baptism but they have overcome those now and this Saturday will be able to take that next step!! So we are very excited for them.

Other than that, the week has been good.  We have found some great new potential investigators that we should be meeting with this week so we hope to have many new investigators working towards baptism by the end of the week! Our other investigators are doing well and we will keep working with them and striving to improve and help them even more!

Thank you for all that you do and for your shining example! Have a great week!

Love ya,
 Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 17, 2014

I am grateful for what I got.

So, for transfers I am staying here in Sofia and I will be serving with Elder Gustaffson. I've met him before and have had role plays and such with him when I have visited his city on exchanges for district meeting and also in zone meetings. He is pretty cool and I am excited to work with him.  He is like a chess champion or something too so I probably won't ever play him in chess so he doesn't think I'm really dumb or something. But yeah I am pretty excited for this transfer we have a few investigators that I think will be ready for baptism soon ( took 'em long enough) but it is better to baptize someone when they are ready because that is a big commitment and we don't want to baptize a burden for the branch. So I'm looking forward to this transfer!!

This week was good, we are working to find and get to know all the members in our area.  We have a lot of them here in Sofia and our area is pretty big, size wise, because the members aren't super concentrated in one area so, we had lots of teaching on the buses and walking inbetween members this week!

Our investigators are doing well, one cool thing from transfers (shows that they really are inspired) we have an investigator who works here in the city but basically lives in Pleven so whenever he isn't here for work we couldn't meet with him but Elder Parkinson just got called to Pleven so now our problem is solved and we will be able to teach him everything he needs to know before his baptism!

Other than that our week was pretty good we got a couple new investigators that are really cool although I'm still looking for a whole family to teach!


Food from this week, we had a member make us шкембе чорба (shkembe chorba) it's a type of soup that they have here made from milk and other stuff and with stomach meat... but she didn't have any "shkembe" so she just made it with mushrooms (гъби-gubi)! It was pretty good and I bet if she had made it the real way it would have been good too but at the same time, I am grateful for what I got.

I love you all! Have a really good fun week and eat some nachos for me!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wondering why I had never done these things before!

I think you sent us a bit of your cold weather or something because its snowing again here! Well it snowed this morning then it mostly melted and now it's snowing again but it's not super cold so it's not bad. Although I wouldn't mind some sunshine and warm weather!

I can't believe that another week has gone already gone by!  The time just flies by, it was weird this last week we had a correlation meeting (as an office elder we had to attend) and they were talking about preparing for the June group passport stuff - that was really weird, they're already getting ready to replace us!

So this week we've got the monthly zone training meeting that Elder Parkinson and I get to teach so that will be good and then transfer calls are on Saturday  so I will find out then what will be happening, I think I probably will be staying( I hope so!) but we will see what the Lords plans are!!

Ian here is a rhyme thing for you (it's like the bubble gum, bubble gum one) you can practice it if you want:
онче бонче
счупено пиронче
риба щука
махаи се от тука
едно две три, кой излезе... ти!

(or phonetically)
onche bonche
schuupeno pironche
riba shtuka
mahai se ot tuka
edno dve tri, koi izleze... ti!

(and the translation)
eenie, meenie,
the fish Pike
go from here.
One, two, three. Who came out... you!
This last week we have really been working on getting the members to help us more in the missionary work and it is starting to pay off! We have one member who went and visited a less active lady who lives nearby her and the less active wants to meet with the missionaries (her husband and maybe daughter are not members) and also when the member was there the lady's cousin came and also has interest to learn more about the church! So we have meetings with both of them this week and we are doing everything we can to find and teach families!! We actually have one family we are working with, the husband isn't a member and they have 3 little kids ( oldest is 7) and it is going well with them.  The husband was a bit reluctant to meet at first and we couldn't really have lessons with him but then we had a couple FHE's with them and the husband has really opened up and is beginning to progress!!
Other than that nothing too new this week we are trying to work with an older lady in our area and her son who isn't a member but the son doesn't want to have a "lesson" with us so we are going to see if we can get them both to the activity we are having on Saturday!!

It is incredible how much potential there is with less actives and part member families I feel like my whole mission has been just trying something new from "Preach My Gospel" that we may not have applied before and then afterwards wondering why I had never done these things before!!
I Love you all! Have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, March 3, 2014

Photo of the day!

 Me and a couple of Elders from my MTC group at a training meeting.

Being in Sofia has it's advantages!!

Thanks for the heads up on the time change it's always good to be prepared and as a missionary you can't really look up these things you just find out about them the night before when the assistants realize that everyone needs to be reminded about it.

The American family had us over for a late breakfast today so we had a wonderful meal of pancakes, biscuits and gravy and American cereal so being in Sofia has it's advantages!!
Whew, March, time sure does fly. This week was pretty good, we had a couple really awesome incredible days and the rest were pretty average but I guess the average days really help you to appreciate and be grateful for the days where everything is super good. Although every day is filled with miracles you just have to look for them sometimes.
We spent a day in Pazardzhik on exchanges working with the Elders there.  I got to work with Elder Watson and he's a great missionary and we had a great day!! Pazardzhik is a pretty small town at least in comparison with all the places I have served but in some ways that is nice, they still are only a group there but they have potential to become a branch soon.
Also, we found some great new investigators this week one was a former investigator who had lost contact with the missionaries somehow but we had a quick lesson with him in a park and committed him to baptism the end of march, so that was incredible! He got sick though this weekend and wasn't able to make it to church but next week we will make sure that he can make it! We also had a contact who we had met on the street a few weeks back and we finally were able to meet him and he brought a friend and before our lesson we gave them a little tour of the church and explained all about the rooms and we ended at the baptismal font then we baptized them! Not really, but we did give them the tour and the spirit was so strong they aren't very religious but they have a desire to learn more and I am sure that the spirit touched there hearts in our meeting. We committed them to be baptized but we didn't get a date but I expect this week to set a goal with them for that!
Everything is going well for us we have 2! Family Home Evenings we are going to tonight one with some members and their friend and another with a less active and her non member husband and kids! So remember FHE is a great missionary/ activation tool!
My companion is doing, well no sicknesses or anything and he hasn't gotten tired of my cooking so we're doing well. we get along well and it's all good!
Not to much new, I love you all!! Have a great week!
Love, Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yup, that's all I've got for today

So our training meeting went really well and the week was a pretty average week for us, lesson and finding wise.  It wasn't a bad/difficult week, but it wasn't an incredibly amazing week either. We did have a lot of help from the branch president this week, he helped us out in a couple lessons and with some less actives.  He is a really good branch president and since he didn't have work this week he helped the missionaries a lot!

We tried doing more member work and re-activation work this week and it has been going pretty well.  We found a couple less active families that would like to meet and we have members that we are helping to work with their friends so hopefully we will get some new investigators soon out of that.

Church was really good for us yesterday, we had a good number of investigators come and one investigator stayed for all three hours and it was his first time! So that was good, it is usually pretty difficult to get them to stay for all of church I think it helped that we had our member fellowshiper, who helps us in lessons, with him the whole time. It is going well with him, he has a great desire to know the truth.  But, he sure does love his beer so we are making sure that he has a good solid testimony and understanding of Joseph smith and the restoration. We are trying to meet with his whole family but for now he keeps saying no, ( his wife is a little skeptical), but we will keep trying because I Love teaching families, plus that is how the church will really grow.

It wasn't just good that he came to church, it was like every single lesson and talk were meant for him and the questions he has.  I kept thinking, "Man, I sure hope he is paying good attention because this is perfect for him!!" So, we were blessed to have inspired talks and lessons for our investigator!

A couple of our investigators are out of town which is difficult.  Not being able to meet with them, we try to keep in contact with the phone but personal visits and lessons are just so much better!
Yup, that's all I've got for today I love you have a great week!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 17, 2014

I am very happy here in Sofia

 This week was pretty good.  We had a big leadership training meeting and that went really well, although it was pretty long and took up quite a bit of time but I think it was well worth it and I learned a lot! I love how dedicated our missionaries are, even though we had a great year last year and had to re-set our baptismal goal for the year, we are always striving to be even better to better apply Preach My Gospel and to be better missionaries! I have seen how it has changed my mission and I love it!!

We had some really good lessons this week, mostly because the members that we had coming were perfect for our investigators! We have one investigator who knew the missionaries 15-20 years ago and we had a member come and it turns out that his wife was taught by the same missionaries that our investigator knew!! So they got along really well and after the lesson the member asked us to call him the next time we had a lesson so he could come again! That was awesome for me and it made me feel like I was doing something right, it was just a great night. Especially because we had another lesson with an American family we had found a while back and we had a Bulgarian come who had served his mission in California and he was so excited to help, he was showing us his English scriptures from his mission and everything on the way there.  It was so fun to see how happy he was to help us out! I love working with the members and the branch president here has been super helpful and we have an incredible branch mission leader!

So, I am very happy here in Sofia and we are seeing lots of little miracles everyday as we are teaching and meeting with people and even as we are out on the streets!  Before my mission, I wish I had watched more of the district movies and watched how they taught and gone out with the missionaries to teach more and studied more from preach my gospel. I wasn't a very well prepared missionary but I am glad I have had wonderful companions and an incredible mission president who have helped me learn everything that I need to learn!
This week we have our training meeting that Elder Parkinson and I get to run so hopefully that will go well and other than that it will be a pretty normal week. Hopefully, we will be able to get some more investigators with dates for baptism this week!

I love you!! Have a great week!

Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Lord has already blessed us ...

This week was pretty good, we had to put some of our investigators into the "formers" as they haven't been keeping their commitments and are not meeting with us. But the Lord has already blessed us with some great new investigators this week who have been incredibly prepared. We found one lady who lives with her brother, when we were tracting after looking for some less actives, and she (in the last 2 months) has tried finding out for herself whether God exists and has done so through prayer.  She has noticed how that has changed her life and her attitude.  She also has a 11 year old son who stayed and listened and participated the whole lesson, sadly her brother is not interested but she wants to learn more and we have a meeting with her on Wed.! We also have a great new investigator who commited to get baptized, when he knows the message is true, he hasn't accepted a date yet but is loving the Book of Mormon and even came to church and really enjoyed it! Our other investigators are doing well and are progressing so that has been good!

Other than that things are going well, the weather is getting really nice.  We played a little basketball today and it was wonderful weather, me and my companion are doing well and always working to be better so that is good!

OH! I almost forgot, I went to Blagoevgrad on exchanges this last week I got to see the one family that we found and taught but that didn't get baptized till later it was so good to see them and to spend a little time talking with them! The grandmother especially looked great she was still smoking when I left but of course has stoped now and is the primary teacher.  She is sncredible and just looks so much happier and healthier!! And the son is going to be a priest soon he is doing really well!!

Love you!! Have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 3, 2014

The mission is just full of ups and downs

This week was good.  We had a bunch of lessons fall through, kind of frustrating, but I figure that the mission is just full of ups and downs so this next week is going to be great and we will have tons of lessons!

We have some investigators that are progressing well and a few others that were just out of town this week. We are still working with the members a lot this week and we are trying really hard to get them to invite their friends to meet with us. It is so much more effective than contacting on the street. We have a lot of success talking to people on the street but it is even better when the investigators come from the members because then they have a friend in the church and there are so many more blessings that come from it too. We have the one African member who introduced us to his friend and we are teaching him and it is so good because he always makes sure that his friend comes to church and is reading and praying and he is always there for our lessons!

There is a recent convert family here that we meet with every now and then, they have a ten year old son and he is literally an exact copy of Jonathan just Bulgarian. He is a big goofball but also very solid and he understands well.  He loves flipping his eye lids upside down and making faces till his parents get upset.

Ian, yes the watermelon here is very tasty. In Bulgarian it is called Диня (dee-nya)  They also love eating watermelon with sirene (their white Cheese) it is pretty good, kind of a salty sweet snack.

We had transfer calls and I am staying here with Elder Parkinson!

So that's basically the week. Have a great week!!Love you!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, January 27, 2014

Whew! It's been quite the week!

This week was really good as we had a lot of meetings with members and those all went really well and we have been very blessed! There was one less active guy who came to church (hadn't been in over 10 years) and we set up a meeting with him and his family and they fed us dinner (catfish shish-kebabs and octopus/shrimp/shellfish rice dish, and a couple other normal salads) I sat down and saw the food and just thought, "oh no, that's a lot of fish/seafood", but sometimes you just have to forget that you have taste buds and eat what is in front of you!  The food wasn't bad, besides the fact that it was from the ocean. (He manages a seafood restaurant) But the night went really well he has two sons, deacon and teacher age, and a very nice wife (all non-members) and we shared a message with them and they want to meet again. The father actually drove us back into center and while we were driving he told us he feels responsible to teach his family about the gospel especially his children!! So that was an incredible miracle that he just came back to church out of the blue, although sadly they live in the other Elders area so we will have to transfer the family to them to be taught. But the important thing is that they get the gospel and that it blesses their lives!!

We also have a couple new African investigators one that we found tracting and another from one of the members who has been helping us out a lot in our lessons and introducing us to his friends! And things are going well with them we have our lessons in English and it is a bit weird teaching in English but also very fun. I also have learned a little bit of African English "Ow you de? -> I de fine = how are you -> I am good " !!

Other news from this week we have snow now, finally so we'll see how long that lasts.

Oh, another cool story from this week, we had a former investigator from a year ago call us up to meet because he had some interesting experiences and he wants to continue to meet and learn more and prepare for baptism and he brought a friend who also wants to learn more and they are both young guys in their 20's!! It is incredible how the Lord prepares people to receive His message and truly no effort is wasted in preparing our friends to receive the gospel and there are thousands of people out there who are ready and prepared by the Lord to receive the message. So keep up the great work in sharing the gospel and praying for these opportunities and the Lord will place those who are ready in your path!

Whew! It's been quite the week, lots of meetings to and fro and lots of blessings!! This next week we probably will be down in Blagoevegrad for a day! Other than that, not too much new!
Love you all have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, January 20, 2014

When Ian asks a question...!

I asked Ian if he had any questions he wanted me to ask Christian and he said to ask him if he had any peanuts for food.  Okay... kind of a strange question but I asked Christian and here is his response to Ian:

Ian I tried eating some peanuts for food once but they started to grow inside of my belly so I let them grow tall enough to be able to grab the top of the plant and pull it up out of my throat and then I planted them in a pot on our balcony and they grew really big and turned into a jungle and then President came over and saw the jungle and the monkeys and all the animals that came to live in the jungle and told us that we aren't allowed to have pets so I had to buy a machete and cut down the jungle and fight the monkeys so I could get my bananas back. Since then I haven't had any peanuts for food.

Yep, Christian's sense of humor is still with him!  Oh, how I love that boy!

Things are going well, looking for the elect and building up the branch here!

So this week was pretty awesome, zone conference was incredible and we had a lot of success finding!

Like I said last week, President Bennett from the seventies (he is in the East Europe Area presidency) was here for zone conference and it was very enlightening. And on Sunday, he was here for church and he taught the second and third hours.  He was talking about the blessings of having a stake and how we will get to that point (through member missionary work).  Towards the end, he had all of us missionaries come up to the front and he was all, "these missionaries were just taught how to lead and teach fun family home evening lessons" (one of the things from zone conf.) and then he asked, "who would invite a friend over and have a family home evening with the missionaries?" and he continued until all four companionships had plans to either work with or teach members every night of the week!! So tonight we've got a couple families we are doing FHE with and we have a busy week ahead of us! It was wonderful being able to listen to President Bennett teach at zone conference and in church and this week I am lucky enough to have a mission council with him too!

The work is going really well here in Sofia, we have great members who help us out and now even more members and we have some pretty neat investigators, (hopefully soon with baptismal dates) and our branch mission leader is amazing and inspired! 

For P-day today, we went and played soccer with a couple other elders and some of the African refugees that are members here in Sofia, which reminds me of a cool story - we found one guy from Africa tracting this week, he is here playing soccer and has been here for 10 years, we are meeting with him again tomorrow - he also has a giant dog and a brother named Moses!

Things are going well, looking for the elect and building up the branch here!
Love you all!! Have a great week!!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, January 13, 2014

We had a lot of success ...

So, it'll be a little quicker today with this letter I haven't got much time, but I am glad to hear that Dad made it home finally and that Allegra enjoyed her trip to BYU! And yes, the batter on top of the moussika is one of my favorite parts! Pretty good huh! Way better than Swedish food! You will have to make some stuffed peppers, technically they are Turkish but they are way good (filled with rice meat and veggies and tasty spices/sauce then baked to perfection!).

This week was pretty good, we had a lot of success in finding new investigators and have quite a few new people we are working with! And all from a bunch of different sources, too: part member families, less actives, personal contacting and former investigators! Other than that, it's been a pretty normal week, we did have exchanges up in Pleven so now there's one more city that I've been to! It's a nice city another pretty small one and it was super foggy while we were there but it went well and we had some good success!

It is going well with Elder Parkinson, he is a great missionary and I learn a lot from him every day!  And he loves water polo!
This week will be a good one, we have zone conference and President Bennet from the area presidency will be here for that so that will be exciting!
Love you!
Elder Maxwell

Monday, January 6, 2014

6 dinner appointments!

This week was good, we had 6 dinner appointments, only one day we didn't have one and that was because we had to come in early on New Year's Eve because it can get a little dangerous with the fireworks and drinking people. So that was very good and tasty!

Oh and we had one interesting dish last week from some of our investigators they called it salina it was raw pork skin with all the fat on it that they layer in a barrel with a bunch of salt and let sit for a month or more, it wasn't super bad but cold salty fat isn't my favorite!

We also had a lot of sermichki this week whick is either the pickled cabbage or grape leaves that you fill with rice meat and veggis and boil, they are pretty good.

We also had some moussaka this week from a member which is one of my favorite bulgarian dishes, so that was real good!

The american family had all the missionaries over for new years day and we had a giant ham which I haven't had in such a long time, so overall we were very blessed foodwise this week and we saved a ton on groceries!

This week we did a lot of less active work because many of our investigators and contact were too busy to meet and sadly we also had a lot of appointments not show but that is part of missionary work and that is why we make back up plans! I think this week will be better now that all of the hoidays are over but we will see. We've got mission council tomorrow and we have exchanges in Pleven this week so I get to do a little bit more traveling but luckily all the cities in the zone are within a couple hours. For zone conferences they always come into sofia we've got a big building we can do it in here and it is the most convenient.

We also had a thing that they do the first sat of the month where the members come and split off with all the missionaries and we go look for or visit less active members/ investigators. It is way awesome working with the members like that, you should see if you can do something like that with the missionaries there, maybe I will organize something when I get back!

 Everyone be good and eat lots of peanut butter ( I gave on of my things of peanut butter to this recent convert family and they loved it, at least the older ones the younger ones said it tasted like flour and oil or something like that. But the dad wanted to try making his own!)

Love you!!
Elder Maxwell