Tuesday, September 16, 2014

July 7th 2014
This week has been a really powerful spiritual experience for me. I have learned some life lessons.
The process I have really learned is truly understanding how to receive personal revelation. We really have to look deep inside ourselves honestly & understand our true desires in connection with God's. God will not give you an answer you are not ready to accept.
We are working with A TON of people haha. We found many families & we are doing a lot of teaching & there is a lot of potential. For example we are working with a woman named Ani who wants to be baptized & she is so elect. We are continuing to work with Zdravko but he is struggling to receive a testimony about Joseph Smith.
There are many things I don't know, but I am learning so much bit by bit!!
Please continuing praying for Zdravko& please pray for Ani that she & her husband Yordan will have the desire to be baptized & will be baptized.
Love Elder Gustafsson:)

July 28th 2014

Thank you for your well thought out email!

Ruse is the most beautiful city which I have served in thus far. It is soooooo hot. It's the hottest & the coldest city in Bulgaria. The Danube river is real close & I can see Romania from my apartment. My apartment is very nice but it gets very hot throughout the day because we only have a klimatik in our bedroom. A klimatik is like an air conditioner? & a heater? I don't know exactly how it works. My new companion is Elder G. He is from American Fork & he is a champion runner! What are the chances of having two companions in a row which are champion runners? We run every day:) of course I am slower. He has been in country for 5 months. We are getting along great:)

My role as a district leader is to lead & take care of the district. I love it, it's the best role I think. Ruse is a branch & there are about 20ish members. There was 22 this last Sunday including the missionaries & an investigator.

I think it is so excited that the Lord is using your talents & passion for family history work. You have always been a great speaker & people person so I know the Lord is using you to accomplish his purposes. Ever since I have been out here I have just become more & more excited about family history work. I want to know stories about our ancestors. Tell me about Grandma Kallen& Grandma Pidcock; stories when they were young, experiences they had in world wide events etc.

Okay so about the vacation/trip: I have known the whole time that you could not pick me up from the mission haha. But that's okay. First: Don't plan anything that we will not be able to afford. We need to live within our means but besides that I am all for going to Sweden, visiting the family there & going to the temple, & showing you Bulgaria. If we can do other things too that would be great but we must do Sweden & Bulgaria. The summer will be great & it sounds like a blast! It would be great for Ingela to come too..but if she can't I understand because she has her family responsibilities.

Just start saving a little every month in order to make it possible. But again if we can't visit Bulgaria immediately that is okay, but we must visit Sweden & the family there. I need to see them.

Okay there was something I forgot to mention last week. Last week before I left Sofia a different tooth of mine broke. So I had to go to the dentist again (It was great:) I love it there! Seriously I love those dentists. But anyway so I have to pay for it out of my own pocket most likely. So for a birthday gift I would like to just get that taken care of. It was 200 Leva so I will need that money in my account just in case. By the way, I have no idea how much money is in there anyway. I have taken some out from time to time. I bought a nice electric toothbrush for 50 leva which has a two year guarantee so that was part of my birthday too. No problem. Last but not least I broke both of my suitcases (one was already broken) so I will need to purchase new ones (They run about 89 leva) before I leave Ruse but that is not a rush so don't worry about that just yet.

Sorry for the random expenses. I don't need anything new or nice I decided for my birthday. I can buy a new suit before I go home. But for now I will just continue working:)

If you send a package just send it to the mission home like normal I'll get it for zone training.

I have been learning all sorts of new lessons here in Ruse like prayer, charity, & patience again haha. We have no investigators so I guess I came here to find new people!! Yay my favorite haha.

I just found out yesterday that my single convert in Hackovo, my first city, since I have been there about a year ago, he has: Received the Melchizedek priesthood, has become the group leader leading the group, & has baptized two of his friends! What a miracle! I never would have imagined it! It has brought me indescribable joy! Truly our works reach way farther than the time we spent there.

I know this is the work of God. This is his church!

Love your son, Elder Gustafsson

ps. the internet zala which we have right now does not allow us to send photos. But I will try to find a new internet zala which allows us to send photos. Sorry!

June 16th 2014

I am so impressed with the wonderful letter you have sent to me:) I am very touched by the story which led to your decision to serve a mission. Please share with Susan this wonderful story. I cannot wait to hear more:)

My week has been a week of miracles & blessings. I am so full with the spirit & determination to serve & love these people & the missionaries underneath my stewardship. Elder J& I have been working very hard but also with joy in our hearts & love for these people. 

On Thursday we set a goal to find someone on the street & have a lesson with them at 2.30. So we prayed & went out towards our intended destination. We hadn't even made it there yet & we found a young couple named Vacili&Ralitsa. We had a wonderful conversation & even met with them the next day. We know that the message we shared of faith & hope in Jesus Christ touched their hearts especially Ralitsa. I really care for them..hopefully they will have the desire to come again & learn more. 

I am just super excited! There were other miracles but I will tell dad &Ingela next. I am so glad you got to meet Brother S,

Thank you for the great photos:) I know that as we hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ & exercise faith in Him it can change our lives & the lives of others. 

Love, Elder Gustafsson

June 23rd 2014

Thank you for the wonderful letter which you sent me:)
I first have to just tell you again, & I cannot tell you enough, what a key & significant role Brother S. has played in my life, not just my mission. I received his letter but he told me not to respond so I didn't haha because he wanted me to write you all first:) I can't wait to see him again.
It has been an incredible week with a lot of great things happening. We had mission conference with the whole mission & President Lawrence, President of the East European Area Presidency. He taught us how to be more successful missionaries: Using members, being obedient, talking with everyone, exercising faith (which was a whole process in itself), focusing on our goals, companionship unity, & the law of sacrifice. These things are actually life lessons! I have learned so many life lessons on my mission but the trick is always applying them:)
We are working with a man named Zdravko& he is way cool & is progressing so well. We meet with him at least every other day. His date for baptism is July 12th so please pray for him & his date specifically in each prayer. I am really enjoying my time with Elder J, he is a really good missionary:) He is exactly obedient & always wants to improve! He has been such a blessing to me in my missionary work.
We have tons to do!!! We will keep going!
Love your son! Elder Gustafsson
 I wouldn't be who I am today without your love & example

June 30th 2014

This week has been another week of miracles in the mission! We had a baptismal goal of 10 for the month of June & we only had 4 baptized. So this last week the entire mission made a few goals to make it happen. We prayed every prayer for the goals, we made personal sacrifices of our own free will, & gave baptismal interviews for people who were ready for baptism.
With all of the effort we reached the goal of baptizing 10 by baptized 11! 7 people were baptized this last Saturday & it was incredible! What a miracle!
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven. I don't know what all of this will mean in the future, I can't see the end from where I am now so I know that it is true faith!
So before you send your package to me (hopefully with the same peanut butter which Grandma sent:))

Love your son, Elder Gustafsson
June 2nd 2014
You have asked a lot of questions about what the week is like schedule wise so I will answer those questions:)
We are very busy haha. The main forms of travel are buses & trains. We pay for the travel from our missionary fund which we receive every month but we get refunded for them.
When we go on exchanges we are with the missionaries for 24 hours of work. So we arrive, for example, Tuesday evening, work all day Wednesday, leave early morning Thursday & we do this at least once a week.
Yes that is the mission home in the office part. Our apartment is very close to the mission home.
I am a very clean & neat missionary & I eat well in terms of amount but I could eat more healthy& more balanced.
We follow the mission handbook & Preach My Gospel. So we are to be in our apartment by 9.00 pm & 9.30 at the latest if we are in a lesson. I would have to say "good areas" is subjective haha but we are safe if that is what you are wondering.
We follow the spirit & follow the rules to be safe & protected. I eat..haha but need more balance with vegetables! I exercise every day for 30 minutes like it says in the handbook. We go running & do weights:)

This week has been very good, every week is like a blur, I can't believe it is already June! My time is already dwindling! On preparation day we prepare..& teach family home evening in the evenings. But for example, today Elder G& I are going to play tennis for our last preparation day together. We will go to the mall too & eat there, perhaps buy something.
During the day we are looking for people to teach by talking to everyone haha& we teach lessons:) we have lunch, dinner, & language study every day. In the mornings we study, exercise, & eat breakfast. In the evening we plan for the next day.
Basically we do everything found in Preach My Gospel.
I will pray for Ivy, it is time for her to go I feel. I will pray for the family as well. She is such a strong woman!
This week I have thought a lot about returning to simplicity. Working smarter, not harder. This is the Lord's way. On Saturday there was a special Priesthood conference broadcasted in the East European area & we watched it. Elder Bednar presided & taught for the majority of the time it was way awesome! I learned a lot of great things. I will be involved in a lot of member missionary work when I return home.
Probably the most important thing I learned this week was being true to the faith & truth which I already know. "The size of our faith & knowledge is not the issue; but the integrity we demonstrate towards the faith & truth we already have"
I don't understand a lot of things, I have many questions every day, but there are some things which I do know & it is my responsibility to be true to them. I know God is there, He loves me & knows me personally. I know this is His church. I know these things are true.
I love you, I am constantly learning & growing. I am striving to push myself every day!
Love your son, Elder Gustafsson
June 9th 2014
Thank you for all of your wonderful letters. I want to let you know that I love you & appreciate you for YOU. I will always love you & cherish you.
When we sleep at other apartments sometimes there are beds, floors, couches etchaha. It works out very nicely. There are always cushions so no worries.
I know that Ivy is a better place:) Please send my love to the family, let them know I love them.
I am really glad to hear about Carley& Kim going on missions. What a blessing! As well as Brother Walker getting married. Do you know if he got married in the temple?
I'm sorry that there is a flu going around during June..haha I will write Ingela a letter but tell her happy birthday for me:) I will also pray that she gets better/endures.
I received grandma's package.. I absolutely loved it hehe:)
For the package just send the two most recent Conference talks, I don't need any more Ensigns/Liahonas than that. My clothes are holding up but don't send any socks or shirts or suits haha I can buy these things here (for cheaper). Speaking of suits, Dad asked what I would like for my birthday, the only thing I can really think of is a little spending cash for perhaps a suit & other little things here. I normally don't spend much of my personal fund so that is all I can really ask for at this moment but I will continue to ponder some real ideas which you can send. I am thinking letters & photos would be nice.
So we are now at the new transfer &my new companion is Elder J& he is from Redding California. He was in the MTC with his group just at the tail end of my groups time in the MTC. I am still in Sofia as a zone leader. Elder J is already with me right now:)
ELDER S. IS LEAVING FOR HOME TOMORROW MORNING! FIND HIM hahah. He is absolutely my best & favorite friend (besides Susan & you all:))
So the week has been really wonderful. I went on exchanges with Elder M, one of the assistants, I really look up to him. He is such an example to me. I learned about a lot of ways I can improve.
This last week we had Mission Council & we have all sorts of exciting things happening. June 20th we are having President Lawrence from the East Europe Area Presidency come down for a mission wide training. Even the missionaries from Turkey are coming! It is all way awesome:)
We have been working with a large variety of people. Kapka has disappeared off of the map sadly but hopefully she will resurface. We are setting a big goal of working extra hard with the members. It is a little exhausting haha. I am learning many lessons especially about how to deal with & love people more. It has been a great blessing in my life.

May 5th 2014
It has been an amazing work week this week. Elder G, who has now only 5 weeks left, is one of the best missionaries I have ever worked with or have heard of. He lives very close to Bourmemouth England. It is in the south by South Hampton? So that reminds me..where did Dad serve exactly for his mission?
Like I said this week has been just incredible! We have been working like crazy! We are now working with a lot of new families & investigators. We have two investigators that are pretty solid working towards baptism on the 31st of May. Kapka& a man named Romelo. So it has been really exciting working with them! I am learning how to be a much better leader from Elder G. which has been very fun!
It truly has been a testimony of the power of faith & action (working hard). The power is in us all! I testify that everything is in our power, we simply need to act & work hard!
I have Elder S. info, so I will get it to you so you can see him & his family. They truly are amazing! I am so excited for you! He will return home in 5 weeks.
Elder G.& I have been loving the peanut butter haha we mix it with Nutella & put it in the fridge..very tasty & death!
I lost my voice this week, that was an adventure haha but it has come back:)
I have been diving into the scriptures more & more. I LOVE THE SCRIPTURES haha I love seeing the doctrine & studying &comparing:) I testify that as we read from the scriptures our testimonies are strengthened! Which is funny because Elder S. loves praying so we are like the perfect pair! Best friends forever:)
I am so excited to see you all Sunday morning:) On Mother’s Day!! I know it is early but it is the best time that works.

I love you all:) We will baptize! The church is true! The Book of Mormon is the foundation of our religion & it is true! Joseph Smith is a prophet of God!
Love your son:) He loves you! God loves you! Christ is our Savior, our Rock, & Redeemer!
May 19th 2014
I thank you for your well thought out letter:)

It has been a very good week, a lot of things happened which were very interesting & I am continuing to learn & grow from the experiences:)

On Tuesday we had zone training & Elder G.&myself led, planned, & taught it, because that is our duty as zone leaders. A major focus was on the Book of Mormon & how we can use it more in our daily work. It was a very powerful experience:) We also discussed the needs of the zone & the most potential candidates for baptism in the month of May. Overall it was a very spiritual experience which I thoroughly enjoyed:)

We have been working very closely with Kapka. She came to church! & we had a wonderful lesson on the restoration by watching the short restoration video. We brought a lot of members to help out (positive peer pressure:)) & it seemed to be a success! She is very positive, quick, & she even prayed for the whole group! (There were 4 members helping us:)) so that was a huge step! She is making great strides towards her baptism on the 31st. Please continue praying for her specifically that she may continue to work towards her baptism & receive a strong testimony. 

Elder G.& I are putting are nose to the grind & just working haha he is quite exhausting! He is the hardest working missionary in the mission I believe. I have learned a LOT from him. We always talk & laugh & share stories. He is an interesting character 

We met with a lot of less-active-part-member families this week. These people are sooo amazing & so strong! Especially with the surrounding conditions, I know it is not easy & it has helped me become more grateful & humble. I should be more humble & grateful. 

I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, without it, the restoration, & everything which came because of the restoration. We would be soo lost. Everything is so clear & simple. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the complete word of God. It contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ & is indeed the keystone of our religion. As I have searched through it & have prayed about it, I have received many witnesses of its' divinity. 

We need to read the scriptures more. I think too little of us can say "I read too much from the scriptures" haha. We should set at least 15 minutes every day to read from the scriptures & ponder the messages we read. It would change our lives. It has changed mine. 

I love you Mom:) I still have a lot I can improve on personally! But I am grateful I have each day to change, grow, & choose to follow Christ & help others. 

Keep the faith & hope in Jesus Christ! 

Love, your son, Elder Gustafsson:)

ps. Concerning the package: Just remember to be simple. I don't need a lot of food or candies but handwritten letters, testimonies, photos, & other special items are just enough:). Thank you for all you do:) I love you!

May 26th 2014
Thank you for the wonderful email:) It is so exciting to hear about all of the great things happening back home with our family & other members of the ward.
My week has just flown by as normal haha it is tough for me to keep track of everything that happens in the week, it is a big blur but this week we had a special opportunity:)
5 Elders from Ukraine came down to do passport work. 3 of them came to work at stay with me & Elder G.& it was super! The great benefit was that I was sucking all the Russian I could get out of them:) During language studies I would ask about Russian grammar & such it was really fun:) I know some Russian now & it is not that tough but we didn't get a chance to discuss the case system which is the most complicated part of the language but oh well. It was a blast like I said & we worked really hard:)
We planned to teach Kapka this week & prepare her for her interview that she may get baptized on May 31st but on Friday, before Saturday, the day of her interview, she got sick & she has been in the hospital for the last 3 days & we have had no contact with her. So please keep her in your prayers, be specific! So we hope to hear from her soon.
We are working with another guy named Bobi. He is the father of a part-member family & he is continuing to progress towards his baptismal date on June 14th. We will continue to work closely with him.
Overall the week has been very good:) We also did an exchange in Blagoevgrad, which is beautiful! I would really love to serve in Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Burgas, & Varna. So if I ever get the chance that would be great haha:) They are all such beautiful cities:)
Our work is continuing forward! There is sooo much to do & not enough time. Truly the laborers are few.
My testimony has been increased! There are challenges all around us but as we humbly pray & search the scriptures we will not be deceived but we will know the truth.
True principles understood change behavior.

I love you Mom:) & I can tell you the lamb was NOT delicious haha I hope to not do it again soon!
Always is an adventure in the Bulgaria Sofia Mission!:)
Love your son, Elder Gustafsson