Lots to talk about so lets get started. how about i start with questions this week? yes. i think this was the best week of my mission. i cant really imagine how it could have been better. who could have guessed that Bulgaria and a baptism would come on the same week? too legit. the new mission president is a great man, i only talked with him for a bit, but he seems awesome, loving, just great. I'm excited for him. yes. elder petterson was in the mtc with me. and my favorite eating place was subway...dunking donuts. i cant decide.
so now from the beginning. Sunday night i get on a train with elder petterson, to Donetsk. we had a fun time, we stayed up talking for a while, then celebrated the 4th of July by singing the national anthem/ saying the pledge of allegiance, and then talking about how amazing America is for a few hours. then we slept for about 2 hours. then we got to Donetsk. the 4th was fun. we went and had a barbeque with the elders in center, some meat, and hamburgers. very American. sang patriotic songs, had a good time. then we went to the office and did some paperwork for Bulgaria. the four of us (me, mendoza, petterson, and neilson) spent the night at the ap's apartment, played a game of risk, and then talked until like 3. we woke up at like 5:30 in order to take some showers and get to the airport on time. we got there, and it was just like i remember. one little concrete building. super sketchy.
but we fly out, first to Kiev, then to Austria, then to Bulgaria. Craziest flight plan ever. but whatever. we get to Kiev and have about a 5 hour layover, so we decided we wanted to see Kiev. turns out, the airport is about an hour away from Kiev. so we walk for about 20 minutes, then take a bus for about 45 minutes, then get onto the metro and go for about 30 minutes, and realize that we have to turn around and go back. but it was a fun adventure, we saw a bit of Kiev, and even went over the dnepr river, which was a cool sight. it was a good time, and we didn't miss our flight. in all the airports we were in, at least one Mormon came up to us and said, hey elders! which was cool, to meet American Mormons again.
eventually we made it to Sofia, Bulgaria. did you know that in Bulgaria they shake their head to say yes, and nod to say no? backwards from everyone else. its confusing. some Bulgarian elders met us there, and drove us to the mission home, which is right in the middle of the city. they showed us our apartment, and were all like 'this is a pretty nice apartment', and we were all shocked. i wanted to say, haha, good one guys, lets go to our real apartment now.' two bathrooms, a kitchen, and three huge other rooms. 10 places to sleep. carpet. a kitchen table! geez louise. it was breathtaking. and then, tradition is that they take us out to a Chinese restaurant, but they were like, 'its too greasy' so they took us to some other weird restaurant, it was ok. we haven't had Chinese in a year, for crying out loud! after that, we ditched them and went exploring Sofia. we walked around center, saw all the sights, got to know the area. the people are amazing there. everyone speaks English, and getting directions was so easy. we asked this one guy where kfc was, and he walked us there! when we got there, though, we looked across the street, and there stood subway. obviously we walked over and helped ourselves. i got a bmt (his favorite Subway sandwich). mmm baby!
then we went home and talked, played cards, and eventually went to sleep. woke up at 8 ish, and the elders tell us that we don't even have to go to the embassy anymore, they can do it all without us, so we are free the entire day. that was good news. so we walk to dunkin donuts to start the day right. man that place is good! i also got some delicious hot chocolate. they know what they are doing over there. then we walked down the street, stopping once for some ice cream. we head to the mall. yeah, there is a mall! in the mall we had first pizza hut, and then kfc. after that we toured the city, saw all the cool sights, took lots of pictures. i got another giant piece of pizza from a street vendor, which was delicioso. that city is so beautiful. it is like real Europe. so many cool sights to see, such beautiful architecture, it was like Kiev all over again.
then we headed over to this junk market, where they sell a bunch of cool stuff, including old Nazi junk, knives, coins, and other stuff. i bought a t shirt, and one of those nesting dolls. also, in Bulgaria, another tradition is to sell ties to the elders there. so i had bought several ties in Ukraine for 15 grivn (less than 2 dollars) and sold them for 7 lev, which is about the same as a dollar. so i made 37 lev off that, and spent it all. they also give us 40 lev for the trip, and i spent all that. and i took off like 20 more lev, and i spent all that. i went a little crazy.
after the market we went to this huge temple, a really famous one, after which we went to that Chinese restaurant. we were so mad that they didn't bring us the night before, because it was AMAZING. the portions were enormous, it wasn't too expensive, it tasted incredible, and half way through, they brought us out a huge bowl of fresh, free watermelon! that was amazing.
the rest of the night we spent walking around, checking out more stuff, shopping a bit, getting subway one last time, and then heading home, where we again played cards, talked, and partied until 3:30. then we got up at 5:30 to shower, (with hot water!) and flew away from that blessed land at 8. it was too short, but we made the most of our trip. my only regret is not getting subway a 3rd time, and dunkin donuts a 2nd. there just wasn’t time. but it was an incredible trip. we flew back to Austria, and then straight back to Donetsk. hung out there for a few hours, and then got in another night train with petterson, and we got a good 7 hours of sleep. which brings my total sleep up to 18 hours for Sunday-Friday. Sunday to Thursday i was at 11. but you gotta. its Bulgaria.
Friday morning i get into xarkov and don't have much time to rest either, we have to prepare for the baptism, make baptismal programs, make sure all the paperwork is in order, meet with Igor and make sure he is totally ready, have him fill out some paperwork. i don't remember that day very well.
Saturday I remember. we spent the morning making sure everything was ready, the font filled, the programs printed. at 3 we met Igor and walked with him to center. we did the baptism at the center branch. i realized then that i don't know what I'm doing, and i wish i had someone there who could tell me what to do. none of our branch presidency came, so we got this kid to conduct, he did a good job. me and Igor went and got changed, and sat down. not too many members came, but plenty of missionaries showed up, which was good. the program was nice, kind of unorganized, because everyone we asked to give talks didn't, so a missionary, and this random member had to pull talks out of nowhere, but they did well. then the actual baptism. the church doesn't have hot water, but it wasn't too bad. we were standing there in the water, and i was just thinking, what am I doing? how do i do this? but I grabbed his wrist and he grabbed mine, I tucked his ponytail into the suit. I asked one of the witnesses, because I wasn’t thinking straight, 'do i need to say my name?' and he said no. so i said the prayer, and dunked him. looked around, the witnesses were shaking their heads, yes, so we start walking out. then i hear them say, wait, come back. i had forgotten to say his name. man. I didn't even know his full name. but i figured it out, and did it over, and it was all good. it wasn't too big of a deal, I don't care. it was great.
after that in the center branch was a xarkov talent show, so we stayed for that, it was fun. Igor had fun, i think. after we went and got some pizza to celebrate, and went home.
Sunday was good, kind of. Igor thought he wasn't going to be able to come, because of work, but eventually got it off. so i was trying to get people to give him the holy ghost, and the branch president said he wasn't going to be there, and the first counselor flat out said no, i don't' know why. and no one else answered their phones. so i thought i was going to do it until we got in a circle around him, and the 2nd counselor stepped in place, thankfully. i was ready to, but gosh. this was a complete missionary baptism, i felt zero support from the ward. except sister Klooyev, who came up to Igor and was like, I'm so sorry i missed the baptism! i was working! you should come over tomorrow night to our house with the missionaries! she is such a great lady.
so then we went home and relaxed. i don't feel too bad for relaxing, i am still really tired from Bulgaria, and mentally tired from the baptism. it was a hectic week, but a great one. i traveled to three different countries in the space of a few hours, ate American food, hung out with friends, and, most importantly, baptized Igor. zhe good week.
I guess it's all downhill from here. start the countdown.
OK, i think that is enough email. thanks everybody! love you all.