Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 11 2013 Bulgaria Updates from Alexander

Hello Everyone,
I am great:) we have been working like crazy! haha we have had a very successful week I felt. We had the zone leaders come over to work with us. I had the opportunity to work with Elder M. I have never learned so much from one Elder in 20 hours haha. He is one of the best contacters I have ever met. So I took what I learned from him & applied it, it works!

We had a funny experience this week. Elder W. & I (we are getting along great) found this older gentleman named Boris. We testified & invited him to learn more. He said "oh well if you want to find me I am always in this place for old people. We always play chess & cards" Light bulb went off haha I then asked if he had heard of Botvinnik, Boris Spassky, Kasparov, Fischer, & Topalov. Which he replied in the affirmative haha. So we gushed over that & said I would come play some time. So we met him a few days later & I played with him in the club, & tried to share the Restoration.. which didn't really quite work haha.. I won & he said again! then I won & he said again! & I declined haha because we had to go. Then another gentleman came who wanted to play with me. I said no, but he said we will play very fast. So I played & won & he said another quick one! I beat him again & what did he say? Of course.. another! I again declined & promised to come on P-day (today) so I can play everyone. They were all really excited to have me there haha. 

So that was great. We had General Conference (just the Sat morning session) in which we had three investigators come including Boris! haha so we talked & we all watched conference which was awesome for the parts that I could understand.. GO BEDNAR & my favorite talk easily was President Uchtdorf haha he was incredible!

I have felt an increasing amount of urgency. After this third week we will be half way through the transfer! I could leave Hackovo next transfer! I am almost out 6 months! I am thinking always: Who am I? What have I become in the last six months? What have I done to help Hackovo? Kind of like a mid life crisis.. but only a 1/4 of mission crisis. So I am working harder & more urgently than ever!

I love working here:) I have been learning a lot of different things with Elder W. One thing I have decided to study lately is Building Zion & the Gathering of Israel. They have made me understand my role as a missionary much more but also as a future husband, father, & member/leader/teacher in the world & the gospel.

I can't wait to read & hear how dad is doing. I got your package, don't send another chess life haha especially with Irina Krush & her legs on the cover! haha 

Thank you so much for the journal, the pistachios, the jerky, the twix, the honey almond butter. 

I love you:) 

First some quick answers from your email.

His name is Miroslav, I don't know his last name. Boris is just ancient haha I let him win a game & he felt really good to say the least (I gave him my queen on purpose) haha the other Elders are going chess crazy. They are always playing & talking & asking about chess it is funny. 

I already bought a coat for 200 Lev. You will see it in action in my photos. 

Yes it is Z. I believe that contacted you. I gave her your info:) that's all haha

Happy birthday to Grandma & Johnny! 

I will be going to Plovdiv this week for Zone Conference on Wednesday so I will more than likely receive the package Grandma sent  

So my week:)

I have been a little sick.. I have had a cold but it I am already getting better. The weather is flucuating a lot so I think that is the cause for the cold. I already talked to Sister Wilstead about it & she said it has been happening everywhere so it it normal. 

We have been continuing to work hard. I continually am learning & am really enjoying my studies. I am striving to have better studies. My Bulgarian is improving which is nice:) but as always I still have more to improve. I am excited to apply my language learning skills when I get home to learn more Swedish. 

We are doing a lot of contacting. It is difficult to get lessons, so we are constantly pushing ourselves & striving to find people to teach & who are willing to meet with us. But we are doing a lot of walking & now tracting. We have found more open blocks. I like tracting it is fun:) haha

As of lately I have been studying "God is our loving Heavenly Father" I have received much from the Spirit. My gratitude for my Father in Heaven has increased as well as my gratitude for Jesus Christ. 

I would like to hear about your spiritual experiences Mom. 

How is Ingela & the new family? 

I have been watching Conference every Sunday for church. it is difficult to understand.. but I get the main message of what they are talking about. 

Watch/read/reread Elder Bednar's talk. 

I feel I am still in the learning phase & being prepared, I continue doing my best every day. 

Investigators are low.. but we have a lot of potentials. Time will tell, but we are committed to finding, teaching, & inviting others to Christ. 

Thank you so much for all of your emails & packages & everything you have done for me:) I appreciate you & the family so much. 

Please stay close to the Lord & strive every day to have a spiritual experience & to be more converted. I know you can do it if you make time for it. Strenghthen our family! We must be united!

Set goals & make plans to accomplish those goals then actually DO them!

I love you:)

It sounds like things are going very well:) it is very nice to hear about all that is going on. I just asked Elder W. if he knew/has heard of an Elder L. He said yes he has heard of him, he was in the first group Elder W. saw leave Bulgaria. I can ask the others a little later perhaps. 

It is not even cold, winter is not even here yet, I don't know exactly what it is like in Utah right now but Bulgaria actually has Fall before winter haha. So we are still transitioning. I am not wearing my thermals yet, I don't even like wearing my coat just yet haha because it is not cold enough. 

I was in Plovdiv this last week for zone conference & I did not receive any packages or mail. If I receive anything you will all know. 

When is Shawn returning?  I am excited everyone back home is getting excited about family history work. 

When I return home I would really like to become heavily involved in the family history work & research for our family. 

So a little bit about my week:) 

We had zone conference which was just absolutely incredible. My mind is exploding with knowledge & I get so excited I just can't hide it:) I am constantly in a state of never ending excitement haha I get excited over the smallest things, because the gospel is incredible. 

We learned about our roles in gathering Israel & who we really are. These are things that have been impressed upon me greatly. 

I am getting very excited for the future. As I have been studying the General Conference talks I have become more & more excited to do member missionary work, temple & family history work. They are all one great work, the marvelous work & a wonder. I know the Second coming is coming & we are truly preparing the world. Get ready. 

Even though I have been watching General conference in Bulgarian & not understanding a lot of it my mind has been greatly impressed & my spirit touched. I know more fully that President Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet of God. It is extraordinary to me to see how the gospel of Christ clicks & works so well. This is the work of Christ. 

One thing I would ask the family to pray specifically for help for me to understand Bulgarian. I can definitely speak, but understanding & listening is something I still struggle with which is vitally important. That would be very much appreciated:)

I have been learning & singing the hymns. They give true strength. I am trying to incorporate them in everything. 

I was curious if you could resend my magnetic chess board & one of my standard, cheap, roll up vinyl chess boards with plastic pieces. The chess boards here are not really adequate haha & we play on P-day. Today Miroslav is coming to play me again it is very nice:)

I cannot explain in the smallest degree everything which happens & that which I learn. I am developing incredible friendships with people & I am truly growing. I am  being prepared for the future which excites me. 

I love you all very much. By small & simple things do great things happen. Pray sincerely, having a conversation with our Father, studying the scriptures with purpose, & find others everyday to help. You will have much greater joy. Keep the commandments. 

Your son, Elder Gustafsson.


I really appreciate the email it was very nice thank you:) 

Yes 6 months already it is crazy! I have been doing a lot of pondering & reflecting. I constantly do that to reevaluate. 

I received grandma's package on Halloween exactly:) I am very grateful for the package:)  Everything was awesome! I love packages!!

I am very much enjoying my mission haha "the opportunity of a lifetime only lasts the lifetime of the opportunity"I am seriously trying to do my best every day.

Same with Grandma, I don't want it to cost an arm & a leg. But be really careful how you send things because the more things that are in the packages, the heavier they are & the more difficult it is to receive them. For example Elder H. parents sent a big package through a company of some sort & it cost 200 lev to get it from customs & he ended up not getting it because of the complexity.

I have been using my guestbook:) I love it!:) Zone Conference was incredible again. 

We have pans for swedish pancakes but I am not going to make them that often anymore well at least for now. There is pasta here I can buy. We have essentials like pans & pots but nothing too fancy. It takes too much time to cook a whole big meal. 

How is Ingela & the new family? I haven't heard from her, I will write her today. 

We have two investigators & only one is progressing. It is hard here haha.. Bulgaria is hard but I really like that work it is rewarding & fulfilling. I have learned a lot about what I want to do in life, but that is a continuing process & a conversation for later haha. But her name is A. & she is making progress & is working towards her baptismal date but anything can happen. Right now she is in Sofia with her daughter for a time, hopefully she will return soon but all my district thinks I am leaving Hackovo next week when we get transfer calls so we will see. Anything can happen. 

It still is not cold here at all, in fact we still have some really warm days. It hasn't snowed either so Elder W. from our ward was right that the winters are shorter here for sure in comparison to Utah. I bet it has already been snowing & blizzarding there. Sorry!

So we contact on a street called R. & we have been tracting in an area called O.  Things are going well, we are getting numbers & planning lessons but they fall through almost every time so it is a little frustrating but we had an activity for Halloween on Saturday. The last activity we had was last transfer it was a disaster because only 5 people came & the activity before that was not fruitful as well. So we planned a very small activity for 10 people & 30 people came! It was crazy. The best way to describe it is that it was a success & a disaster haha because a lot of people came but we were disorganized because of the size of the group which was unexpected. 

Yesterday I came up with an idea to help the members bond more because there is usually tension & drama & such. So I created a reoccuring activity for Sunday night which is similar to "ward prayer" in singles wards. Basically we get together with members, have a spiritual thought, play games & eat for an hour. It was a huge success yesterday & hopefully will continue after I leave to build member relations. 

I work well with my companion:) thanks again for the journal yes it is beautiful.

Pray, study scriptures, keep the commandments always, love one another.

I love you all dearly, I am learning so much every single day, my mind is exploding with ideas & knowledge in every facet of life. I pray for your safety & success. 

Love your son, Elder Gustafsson

 Show message history

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sweater Time in Bulgaria!!!!
September 25th 2013

Bulgaria Week 10

My eating has been slowly improving. I have been studying my "Where's mom now that I need her book" to come up with new ideas. After emailing we will head to the store. 
I am not cooking food just yet. I made a realization yesterday that I don't know exactly how to handle/cook/prepare any kinds of meats. So I would love some advice on that. 

It is getting cooler here. We bust out our sweaters from time to time, like right now:) I don't know exactly when I will need/get the coat. Only time will tell.

A lot of good things have been happening, it has been a good week. We had zone training where I learned SO MUCH & how to be so much better. So I am constantly trying to improve & think of creative ways to be a better missionary in all aspects. I am constantly just learning & absorbing information & trying to keep track of it all. Different kinds of things for not just spiritual things & missionary things but about life & leadership & the home. It is incredible!

I received an email from Brock that he got his call to Guatemala I think? that is super! Who else have received calls in our ward?

I studied a beautiful topic that was on my mind this morning that I studied/read a little bit yesterday. It was the conversion of the Anti Nephi Lehies. I wanted to understand more why they were so converted & how so I can apply it to myself & to other people here like members & investigators. It was beautiful & I found it all in Alma 23-25 I believe. The believed! They knew the knowledge of the truth & they believed it. Not only that but they hid their "weapons of rebellion" Our weapons of rebellion are our sins, our favorite sins even. They can be anything. If we put them away & covenant with God to never do them again we become so much stronger. They would rather die than sin. They knew the things were true through the power of the Holy Ghost.

I thought it was incredible. We then studied how to prepare for our investigator. I read this verse in Mosiah, Mosiah 4:19 & it was so powerful, it touched me deeply. Are we all not beggars? Think about it.  

We only have one week of this transfer. I don't want to leave Hackovo, there is so much more for me to do. But be it according to God's

There was a wedding outside our apartment in the morning. Bulgarian weddings are so awesome! Haha 
APPLY WHAT I RECOMMEND. Pray for my Bulgarian I really need help.!!!



Bulgaria Week 9


What is going on here first:) We have a few investigators: S….., C……, & I…. (the most common names here are Ivan & Georgi it is hilarious haha because every other person we meet has one of these names) They are all progressing but we will see how things go. We had a very successful week last week with numbers & such. For some reason it felt soo long haha but very good & rewarding.

There are two weeks left in the transfer & Elder S…… has the feeling he will go, & I believe him. So anything can happen; I could stay, I could go, he could stay, he could go. But it has been an amazing experience & I have learned so much from him. Even when I thought I had learned everything I needed to I still learn more! Again the top two things that i have learned so far are patience & listening. Patience is definitely the first though.

We find people through street contacting still haha it is a thrill. I love missionary work! Every day I just beam with joy because I love it:) I learn so much during my personal studies. Many, many things have been impressed upon my mind. Many things for now & in the future. It's almost too much!
Yesterday (Sunday) we had the great privilege of having President & Sister Wilstead in Hackovo with us:) It was so awesome! I got to talk to them a bit & get to know them better. President Wilstead is seriously the coolest. He is so bold & powerful. I wanted to get to know more about them & I did which was cool. I will tell dad a bit when I write him because I know he will be interested. I had my first interview with him, I guess there are 4 a year. So it was nice:)
The church is focusing so much upon families, which would at first seem obvious because we have known this, but I never realized how much.

Strengthen the family. Live the Family Proclomation. Have family home evenings. Read & pray together every day? Will you & Dad do this? Encourage our new little family as well. I have realized more how imporatant family is!







Bulgaria Week 8

Things have been hectic. For example today I am starting my emailing an hour later than normal because there was no room in the internet zala where we use the computers. So we went & did our shopping at Kaufland (it is like a store it is really nice) & got our for food the week.  

This last week, like all other weeks have just flown by & I have learned a lot. The saying "the longest days & shortest weeks" on your mission is true! Yes I can't believe I am already 4 months out! In two months I will already be 1/4 of the way done!  

I have many precious spiritual experiences like one this morning. I studied the Atonement, just the Atonement. I received many important things & made some important realizations. My perspective has definitely changed

Elder S……. has had the greatest influence upon me. He is just full of the spirit & I learn so much from him & the Holy Ghost. He will have truly changed the entire course of my mission. It is hard to believe that I might only have 3 weeks left with him.  

Last P-day I played chess with Miroslav from the city of Plovdiv. I don't know when but he was the champion of Plovdiv (which is the second largest city in Bulgaria) we played 3 games then a fourth. 

I won, drew, won, & then decided to play a 4th & I lost. It was very thrilling! Haha because he is good & I felt at home:) I played very recklessly because it was very fun & excited! I felt like Mikhail Tal doing all these crazy sacrifices. It was just really fun & enjoyable:)
I love every thing happening here:) I am so happy.

Let me talk about C…….. He has been so difficult haha. Soooo difficult. But he is getting baptized. He really wants to be baptized! He is a very interesting & tricky character. He is sooo smart. So he has so many questions & they are difficult to answer because he doesn't have the foundation. So we are teaching him all of the commandments Tuesday. He will be baptized here or back in Holland where he lives. It has been quite the experience.

Bulgaria Week 7

My Dear family & friends
We are teaching C…, he has a date for September 21st. 

I received the package from grandma it was great thanks:) I especially love the letters, the jerky, & peanut butter.
I have many spiritual experiences through the week. 

I am healthy, I love the people, I love the work, I love the gospel.  

Please do family home evening when you can. It will strengthen & refresh you. Personal prayer & scripture study are essential. Essential I say!


Bulgaria Week 6

For me lately the simple things have truly been emphasized lately. The Sacrament, prayer, our relationship with our Father in Heaven, the role of Jesus Christ & the Atonement, faith, hope, patience, compassion, & humility. 
Easily the number one thing I have been cultivated & learning while out here is to be patient & listen.

 Patience & listening in interpersonal communications like with people but even more important is spiritual patience & listening. Because I have been listening more for the spirit, humbled myself to submit to know & follow God's will, patiently waiting & seeking. Because of these things I have had more spiritual moments & promptings from the spirit. I still have a LOT to work on & improve in this area. But I am glad I am learning right now at the start of my mission to work on for the rest of my life.

 We really are blessed with so much here. We need to be more grateful for what we have. We have a difficult investigator at the moment named C…. He is so close to progressing but anything can happen with him. He shows a lot of possible potential but he is more of asking questions than looking for the right church exactly. We are meeting today & will challenge to baptism so make it or break it today.

There are all sorts of little experiences that happen every day. Learning moments, tender mercies..
The cardboard flat of me is.. interesting haha.

Please I beg of you, put God first in everything. Don't lean upon your understanding, knowledge & talents. Rely on God & resort to Him for everything. Pray pray pray.

Pattern for revelation: Desire, study, ponder, pray, do and repeat! The spirit told me this:) it works:) 

I love you, you be missionaries out there:)




Bulgaria Week 5

To sum up though haha church service is only 30 min Sacrament, small break, then sunday school. & that is it haha. Our investigator’s family is completely against the church.. so they have forbidden him to come. But we are working on that so it is all good haha. We survived the first transfer so I am staying here with my companion to finish my training. Things are picking up again:) Missionary work is incredible & works in mysterious ways haha. I have met a few more chess people & I might play on today so we will see what happens today. It is not a huge tool that I have been using though. With time we will see how it goes. The members meet at a little building that is actually pretty good sized but nothing like a chapel. There are two room, a small office & two bathrooms. No home or visiting teaching. No ward missionary. Very simple:) haha 

Things are just great. I have been learning so much. Impossible to explain.

I wish the best for this week. Emails have been terrible today.

Reason, pray, reason, pray, do.

God knows us all so perfectally & is in the details of our lives.

I am safe, I am healthy, i love every moment here. Time flies by & I don't want to miss a minute. Everything is put into place. The first law of the kingdom of heaven is obedience.

Prayer, the Holy Ghost, & our relationship with God the Father was really impressed upon my mind this week. God knows you & loves you. Trust him.

Faith is action. Prayer is specific & heartfelt.

I have learned so much about patience & listening hahah. & boy did I need it:)

I love you all, I wish the best for the wedding & thank you all for the birthday wishes.

Things have been really interesting here.. it is completely impossible to explain what goes on here. There is just so much. So much goes through my mind about so many different things. I have so many things I want to ask you haha & so many thoughts & little things to say & tell.  

I have survived the first transfer. It was amazing.  

So I am still here with my same companion. I am really focusing on the work. I don't struggle with anything..  

Our investigator is having large struggles with his family, but he knows this is all true. So it is a process. I love being our here & working. I can't fathom how I do this every day & life continues on & all the things you & my family do.

This week my understanding of God as my Father, the sacredness & specialness of prayer, & the role of the Holy Ghost have been strongly impressed upon my mind this week. My perspective has completely changed. Something for you to contemplate if you would like is truly your nature as a daughter of God. How well he really knows you. He hears & knows everything. All your thoughts, desires, needs. It just changes the way you think of prayer.  

So pray:) pray always! About everything. Listen for an answer. Listening in general is something that I have been learning A LOT about.


Things are great here. Stuff happens for good & bad every day haha missionary work is crazy! I don't understand how the Lord works. I just have to trust Him & he makes it happen.


God knows us!!


Bulgaria Week 4

Bulgaria Week 4

Our first investigator was baptized & confirmed this yesterday & Saturday. It was an amazing experience & his story is great! Before he met us he prayed that something in his life would change & then we met him the same day! When we asked him to pray about Joseph Smith, the church, & the Book of Mormon he went home & prayed about it that night. Later he testified to his mom who was against are church (protiv as we call it in Bulgarian here) he testified to her & she is no longer protiv incredible! He is an amazing person! He is so ready & prepared so we are still working with him. I still can't believe we found him. We were up north contacting & we were by a park by some blocks (old communist apartment complexes) & we stopped & prayed where to go. We had the thought to go west & that is when we ran into him:) He said he agreed to meet with us because we were so friendly. So that shows you always need to be friendly & an example, you never know who you might find.
I have been studying & reading so many things it is super exciting. Alma 12 is amazing & completely outlines the Plan of Redemption & it is awesome! Alma 13 is all about the Priesthood which has excited me to study all the chapters about Priesthood. I restarted the New Testament which is awesome as well I am in chapter like 20? or 22 or 23? Christ just said woes upon the pharisees, it was intense.

I have been learning a lot about myself, thinking about the future, trying to improve. My Bulgarian is definitely improving which I am happy about:) I can understand better if I really listen & God helps me.

I have been having a lot of thoughts about prayer. Prayer is simple, be specficccc, express gratitiude. Every prayer should be different. Never the same.

Earlier last week I went to Stara Zagora with my companion of course because we had to get the font.. yes there is a portable font that we have to grab & drag between cities. In Stara Zagora they have giant chess boards, & people playing chess.. unlike in Hackovo where I am. We had extra time (2 hours) I introduced myself & began playing with all these old men:) they seemed skeptical at first & I was a little afraid because I wanted to make a good impression & I hadn't really played in a while. I played this gentleman twice & won both:) then I think I played another guy? I don't remember exactly. But the last guy I played was (as everyone there had told me) Bulgarian champion 30 years ago. We played, I was black but equalized in the endgame but lost a pawn, then created a drawn rook endgame pretty much but he pressed for the win made a crucial mistake & I went on to win:) I was trying to be as nice as possible & speak in my broken Bulgarian but I also explained why I was here & such. I hope I left them with greater respect for us missionaries. I directed them to the church & told them good day:) so that is my chess story!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bulgaria Week 3 and 1/2

Elder Gustafsson, Elder S and Anton

Family and friends

So much to respond to & so little time.  

Things are great! I have truly been learning how to rely on God through prayer. So in answer to finding your flash drive pray & look pray & look. We must make our prayers happen as best as possible. 

We have a cockroch problem? haha I have never seen any in my entire life until now. We are taking the appropriate measures. 

We work & work & work & work. I love every second. I don't want to waste any moment. Because I will never have this time again. I will never be closer to God.

I cannot explain what I learn here. It is too difficult to describe over email. 

I had a trial last week. Everything is fine so please don't  worry or anything, please. I was having horrible pain in my mouth, neck, & teeth on the left side. Pain killers wouldn't really stop it. I couldn't eat. I prayed so much. I just had to endure because the dentist saw no problem. The pain would come randomly & I couldn't move. It was just horrible. But I did our work regardless. I just prayed & prayed & prayed for strength to endure. 

I learned so many lessons. It lasted for about 6 days. 

But it healed. Whatever was wrong with me. I learned how fragile life is & how much I rely on God every day. I would always think about all those who had real pains & trials before me. I thought of  pioneers, Alma, family members. Then suddenly it didn't hurt as bad. So I kept going. 

So everything is good now:) we are talking to a lot of people. Lots of voices of warning. Lots of testifying. 

We finally have a progressing investigator who has a lot of potential. He came to church, we are meeting again, he is doing committments. So pray for him, his name is Anton. 

I will send some pictures. I love it here. I can't imagine leaving this place already. 

I love you all. Be grateful for what you have in America. Because there are so many resources we don't have here. I can't even explain.

I love you, stay close to God. Pray & study. Show gratitude every day. God is there I promise. 

-Elder Gustafsson

So last week I mentioned we met Anton (which was the Friday before last P-day.) & we had met with him 3 times & he came to church. He is 23 & is a great guy. We have met with him everyday since then & have taught him every day. Last week we had the privilege to invite him to be baptized. 

He accepted. He will be baptized this Saturday:) we have been doing a lot for this. But that is the plan. He has accepted & committed to all things except we are having our last commandment lesson on tithing. Please pray for him & for us that the Spirit will be there to testify to him. He has been so prepared. His entire countenance is different. I am so happy. 

We will continue working with him & find more souls because there are more.

I am so humbled & grateful to be a part of missionary work.

One thing I have learned is that I will a missionary for the rest of my life. Be a member missionary! Don't get too wrapped up in your own lives! There are people out there who need the gospel! Be an example, do good continually. Strengthen your family! There is more work to be done than I can imagine. 

The first & foremost thing I can testify of & invite you to do is put God first in your life.

Love God & love one another. 

Study General Conference (again if need be) it is for us, for our benefit. Please take part in the blessings. Personal study is a must! It has changed me. Have family home evening! Strengthen your family! Love them & attend the temple. 

I love it here. I want to just work & work & work & work. I have weaknesses, soo many. I hope I can put on the attributes & character of Christ.

I love you all so much. I love hearing from you, when I get an email I respond. 

Love, Elder Gustafsson

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bulgaria Week 2

Haskovo (Xackobo) Bulgaria
July 2013


Thank you for the letters:) I had a lot of emails to read so that takes time. 

It sounds like there are a lot of things going on! So much! I will answer questions first. 

I contact every day haha we walk around & try to talk to people about the gospel. Usually they are not interested at all. But I thought we had a great week because we did 68 Successful approaches hahaha which I guess is a lot? I just speak & testify because that is literally all I know how to do:) I say hello how are you then testify of the Book of Mormon. Then say good bye haha. 

We have taught a few lessons but nothing has come from it yet. But there is lots more to do & I am excited to do them:) 

My favorite time of day & the best thing I do all day is personal study for 1 hour. It gives me the strength & energy & Spirit to get through the day it is incredible. The Lord is here. He gives me strength when I feel I can't do anymore. The people here are great really, but they are just missing the gospel. It takes a toll on my soul. That is when Christ lifts me up. 

I haven't really used chess at all. But we have discovered a chess club here in Hackovo:) so we are going to check it out today:)

With the members.. I don't have any real specific guidelines as to what I am supposed to do. We just run Sacrament. I have thought of all sorts of ideas to excite & inspire people more & such. I have a lot of ideas about a lot of things! I make mention of them at times but I am trying to let my companion lead..:) hahah because he is the boss & I trust him.

Great fun news we found this huge bug in our apartment last night. A cockroach maybe? I don't know exactly oh well.:)

We are working hard but we have not seen any immediate signs of success. But it feels like I have worked so long & so much but it has only been a week! hahah So there more to do:) & I am excited to do it. I just need God's help because I can't find these people to teach on my own. I can't convert these people on my own.

I have been really studying the scriptures & Preach My Gospel. They are incredible, just absolutely incredible. They give me strength & I have been learning to rely on Christ much more.

The language is defintely improving. Understanding is difficult because I don't know a lot of vocabulary that is not church/gospel words. But I can hear things better. 

I can't believe it has only been one week. I am excited to do so much work. I will be here at least 3 months & highly likely more after. But it will depend on what the Lord wants. 

I am so glad to hear about all the wonderful things you are doing. Everything is amazing here, I am praying for you here. Keep me updated. 

I love you all there is so much to tell but I cannot adequately explain. 

I love you,

-Elder Gustafsson

Stay close to the Lord, always keep the commandments, endure trials, show gratitude. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Arrived in Bulgaria Week 1 July 2013

This is my first week in Bulgaria. Arrived on Thursday July 11th 2013
So Mondays (my Mondays haha) are my P-day. Remember I am 7 hours ahead of you there!! 

Dobre, All my luggage arrived safely except from London to England I was forced to take out my lotion, toothpaste, and vaseline,  & throw it away. Which was definitely not a huge deal. So that was all.

Everything is awesome I love it! On the flights we tried talking to as many people as possible so hopefully good comes from those but those are just gone & in the past now haha. 

It is humid here. I am in the city of Хасково (pronounced Haskovo) which has about 50,000 people. There are 15 members roughly but it varies. There is only one other companionship here with us. My companion & trainer is named Elder S. . He is great! He speaks excellent Bulgarian & we get along very well:) Our apartment is nice in my opinion & things have been going great. I have been getting to know the members who are super great & I feel already a strong love for them. 

We have already done a lot of contacting but I hope to do more because I love it! I love talking to & finding people! I have been thinking of & looking for more ways to contact people & be more successful there. 

The members here are so nice & we are already really close to them. There are problems within the Group of members in the past with drama & etc but we aren't focusing on that & I don't even know what they were so hahah tova e! My companion is the Group Leader, which as you might well know, like a Branch President only smaller. So we have some interesting roles here. 

The Bulgarian is... coming haha. I can speak okay but understanding is a whole different world. So with time it will improve:) This city is awesome. It is really clean & nice. The people are super nice. I have been trying the foods I have heard so much about here & they are delicious. I had an incredible opportunity to eat at a members house yesterday. Her name is Didi ( Златка ) & she prepared the most fantastic dinner. I was so grateful because I know what a sacrifice that is. I cannot even explain. It was amazing!

Well we have so much work to do it is awesome! I am trying to work work work work! The other missionaries have commented on my enthusiasm. I hope to not lose it because I truly love it here already. Based on what I have seen & done here already I know God sent me here for many reasons & I will strive to accomplish them.

I will attempt to send some photos. Just note because of the craziness because of the loss of a day I have had no time to do photos & such. Soooo be grateful you are getting some haha:) 

 I love you all so much. I am so glad & happy I am here in Bulgaria. I am so glad to be sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Until next time! 

-Старейшина Густафсон  (Elder Gustafsson)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alexander Week 5 from MTC

Week 5 from the MTC June 10 to June 15 2013

A few pictures on P-Day . Me, my zone, and Elder V's Birthday

Hey family, I have been thinking about our trials and naturally difficult times will come when amazing things are about to the Book of Mormon every morning (like really study) & I promise you will have strength to get through the day also if you pray. Always pray:) I am trying to be more exactly obedient because we have been promised miracles if we do so.  I have been learning so much! It is crazy! My Bulgarian is improving so much, I am excited to call you on my way to Bulgaria so you can all get to hear awesome Bulgarian:) We have officially ended our 5th week I cannot believe I am going to be actually in Bulgaria in less than a month it is so exciting I am very excited to go. Next Wednesday 12 news Bulgarians are arriving it will be super awesome. As I have been setting goals & truly following through with them I have had incredible results. have been trying new things like play futbol (soccer) I scored 3 goals in one game! I have been learning to box from an Elder in my zone & I have been telling people about chess players like Bobby Fischer I love when people are interested in that kind of stuff:) I have been singing in the choir for a very large special event taking place on June 23rd of which I am sure you have heard about called the Missionary Work..  hahah I don't know what it is called exactly. But the First Presidency will be running it & it is historical.
The stuff you sent me from your Stake and Ward Conference was awesome about the 4 X 4 plan These are things I have been thinking and working on.
1.) Pray always
2.) Study the Book of Mormon daily
3.) Express gratitude to the Lord for your blessings
4.) Attend the blessing of the temple, especially since I won't have it
5.) Treasure the friends & family you now enjoy
I have been learning and understanding the importance and role of the Book of Mormon. It is so Powerful. I love it!!
Their are several Croatians in my Zone and it has been really great getting to know them and listen to their language. I am sending you a Croatian Book of Mormon to keep. Bulgarian and Croatian are super close! We still have SYL (Speak your language) days. We need to do 20 a month. I am very interested in hearing some stories about Grandpa Kallen, I know practically nothing about him. I would also like some recipies from Croatia.
As a zone we are really trying to serve one another and to pray together more. It has really helped. I feel like I am becoming a better teacher when it comes to the Gospel. It has also been really great to hear all the other languages being spoken. I can't believe I have been here for a month already.
I have been studying the Book of Mormon seriously and I have really been liking it. My testimony is growing. I feel like time has been flying by so fast. I read this great talk called "The Fourth Missionary." It has really changed my perspective. Many things have touched my heart here and I feel like the Lord is guiding me.  I love what I am doing. I love you all.
Elder Gustafsson
P.S. Be strong & endure, I know there are trials but you can handle it if you rely on the Lord.
I love you so much, I love being here & I am so excited for Bulgaria.

MTC Week 4

Week 4 from the MTC gathered from a few letters written during the week. June 1 through June 8 2013
Elder G with Alexander Gustafsson

Elder C with Alexander Gustafsson

These are a couple of missionaries that are in Alexander's Zone. They all hang out together on P-Day.

Hello family, I hope all is well!  I have had you on my mind from time to time, and I hope that all is well! This week I had a lot of great experiences. I feel like I am becoming a better teacher. Twas humbling indeed! I had the opportunity to teach a native Bulgarian in TRC. My Bulgarian is coming along quite well, it will just take time. One of the Elders told me I was an intimate communicator. That is the weirdest thing I have ever heard and have no idea what it means!
I have really loved studying the Book of Mormon.
I love hearing all the interesting things that are happening at home.  I realized that Ingela's birthday is coming soon. Mom it looks like you will get to be there this time since I won't be at the International Chess Festival this year. The first time missing in 3 years.
As a Zone we are trying to learn 25 words a day in Bulgarian so that we can increase our vocabulary. As I am learning the new words for the day I try and go back and review the previous words. It is quite difficult I have discovered the Missionary Pattern: you leave home, dislike the MTC and miss home, then you arrive in your missionary country, you miss the MTC and don't really like your new country, then you love your new country and have to leave to go home, you miss your country and dislike home. You can never be happy :(.
I have discovered that it is weird to write in English. It is quite humorous actually, I think and dream in Bulgarian. I am working really hard to create experiences to share with you each week. Love to you and all the family Elder Gustafsson, your son.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Week 3 from MTC

Here in the MTC we are on a very tight schedule! We are supposed to get up at 6:30am but my companion Elder V and I get up at 6:15am to start the day off right. I have taken some pictures of myself and my companion and some other things but the time is so tight on the computer on P-Days that I haven't had time to download them. I will hopefully get that next week. I have been sick for a few days with a cough and sore throat. I think it is lack of sleep and maybe allergies. I have seen Elder Beals and Elder Davis from our ward but I didn't get to spend much time with them. They seem to be doing well.

I traveled with my District to Los Angelas this week to go to the Bulgarian Consulate to get our Visa's.  It was awesome to speak with some native Bulgarian's and to try to understand them!! When it was my turn to talk with the lady about my Visa she looked really mad and said "You have 5 names!! We cannot put 5 names on your Visa! Pick 3!. It was kind of scary but I picked 3 and then we finished up.
Our driver from the airport was Ooshan from Sri Lanka. He has 2 sons 10 and 5. After everyone kept asking him questions he and I talked for a bit longer so that I could get to know him. I kept asking him about himself and we had a good talk. He started to ask what I believed and all sorts of things, so I felt I did some good missionary work. He was very nice and interesting and I left him my "For the Strenghth of Youth pamphlet" and my email.

Connie and Matt sent me some awesome cookies. I love packages and mail!
Grandma sent me Macroons one of my favorites
And mama sent donuts!.
Susan sent goodies and everything was green!!
I loved everything. Tell them all Thank you.
In our district we are trying to learn 25 new Bulgarian words each day for our vocabulary. I learn the new words and then I try to review the ones from the days before also. It is difficult.
I have been told the food in Bulgaria is very good. I am glad!
Well that is this week. Tell everyone I miss and love them

Your son Elder Gustafsson