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Monday, June 15, 2015

Ja, Naturlich

This week was incredible!  Here are a few snapshots:

-Snapshot: All 3 of the Spasov children - Ivana, Ivan, and Zlatomir - looking hopefully at their parents' faces as they ponder the invitation to be baptized. 

On Tuesday, Sister Israelson and I went with our GML Bruder Speck to finish teaching the Plan of Salvation to the Spasov family. At the end of the lesson, I asked Albena if she knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the restored gospel of the Lord. She said yes. I asked her if she would be baptized. She smiled and said yes. I then turned to Plamen and asked him the same questions, and without hesitation he said "Ja, Naturlich." I asked him if he would be baptized. He looked at Albena, then his children, thought about it for a minute, and said yes. We invited each of the children to be baptized and each responded with the same answer: a resounding YES! 

-Snapshot: The whole Spasov family bowing their heads together in prayer as Plamen prayed for the first time.

Sister Israelson and I felt prompted to go back the next day and to read in the Book of Mormon with them. Luckily, Albena and the kids were home and Plamen had the day off of work. We read Enos together and talked about how and why we pray. Plamen told us how he felt very close to God, but had always been afraid to pray. 8 year old Zlatomir told him that it was easy when we know that God wants to talk to us. In the middle of Sister Israelson's testimony, Plamen suddenly bowed his head and folded his arms and began to pray in Bulgarian. We didn't understand anything that he said, but we could feel how earnest and heartfelt the prayer was. After closing in the name of Jesus Christ, all of us looked up and there was not a dry eye in the room. Albena explained a little of what he said and it was beautiful. Plamen apologized for crying, but said that he prayed from the bottom of his heart so he couldn't help it. He and Albena committed to pray together every night and to pray with their children every morning and night. 

-Snapshot: Ivana sitting on a park bench with Aimee - a less active 13 year old - explaining why she wanted to be baptized. 

Sister Rückauer and I thought that it would be a good idea to organize something where Ivana and Aimee could meet and feel like they have a friend at church. So we picked them both up after school and got ice cream. They realized that they had a lot in common. We asked Aimee to explain how she felt when she was baptized 2 years ago. She thought about it for a second and a look of recognition and fondness came into her eyes. She talked about feeling totally clean and knowing completely and without a doubt that God loved her, was proud of her, and knew her. We asked Ivana to tell Aimee why she wanted to be baptized. She then gave such a mature, beautiful answer about making a promise with Heavenly Father, being totally clean from everything wrong she has ever done, and being a member in the church that she really feels is the right church. 13 year-olds rock! We have planned another activity with them and another 13 year old girl from a part-member family. 

I have been working hard and following Elder Holland's counsel to "CALL THEM DOWN", and yet somehow I still question what I could have ever possibly done to deserve the chance to witness these miracles. I have the faith that blessings will come, and then somehow, for some weird reason, I am in awe when they actually come. It's incredible. 

This week I said goodbye to President and Sister Kosak. I believe so strongly that I was sent here not only to serve these people and with these companions, but to serve with them. The advice and direction that they have given me, the love and strength they have demonstrated, and their testimony and light will guide me through the rest of my mission and life.  

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Grace Hendricks

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