Last week the Mission president invited us to join him on a Zone Conference trip across the entire county of Bulgaria. We were thrilled and excited to be able to meet all the missionaries in the other two districts and see the country along the way.
We traveled with the two Assistants to the President, Elders Neuenswander & Frandsen. They had the task of facilitating the actual zone conferences in each district. Although President Roth and his wife each took a part on the programs, the Assistants and Zones leaders were in charge of the rest. In each area the Zone leaders, as well as conducting the meeting, directed a presentation on a memorization that had recently been implemented by the President. There were eight parts they had all been asked to memorize - in Bulgarian. The Zone leaders and Assistants set a great example by being prepared to recite any part of it as requested by the group. Others were called on to recite a part as well. Some were more prepared than others, but it was a fun activity, especially since we were not on the hot seat! The Zone leaders in each area also took care of providing lunch and arranged a musical number to add to the spirit of the meeting.
The Assistants main presentation was on using media wisely to invite the Spirit and peace into your heart. They played several clips of music to demonstrate inappropriate as well as appropriate pieces. It is not only hard rock or rap that can drive away the Spirit. Even if the lyrics are uplifting the beat and feeling can be offensive or the message (although appropriate in another setting) may not promote focus on the work they are trying to accomplish – such as songs of romance or ones that bring back memories of home. Home is somewhere we all want to go someday, but it is hard to focus if you are longing for another place.
They did a great job and ended with a song that brought peace to everyone in attendance. It is so inspiring to see the young men take their responsibilities so seriously and uplift one another. Being on a mission gives them such an opportunity to get outside themselves and learn to love others. They also learn to govern themselves and have opportunities for leadership that prepares them for the future. It is a marvelous thing for them as well as those that they are called to serve.
President Roth spoke on “Believing Christ”. (Read Stephen Robinson’s book, Believing Christ)
Many of us believe in Christ, but don’t always believe that Jesus has the power to save. So we don’t believe Christ. We think that we will never make it to the Celestial kingdom because we are not “good enough”. We often despair and think of giving up because we can’t seem to be as good as we see other people be. But when we enter the waters of baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we form a new partnership called the New and Everlasting Covenant. This new covenant has two partners. Our self, one who is flawed and human, and the Savior, one who is perfect and immortal. This partnership is perfect right now. He causes us to be justified, or judged “not guilty”, and able to enter the Celestrial Kingdom. Right now! We are not perfect yet on our own, but will be later. This is Perfection-in-Christ (Moroni 10:32-33). It doesn’t matter if we are a 1 or a 5 or a 10, on the scale of 1-10 of goodness, providing we maintain the partnership by abiding in the gospel covenant. (Thank Heaven for the Sacrament and repentance). So if you despair of ever “making it”, believe Christ! Don’t call him a liar. He told us he has the power to save, and he does. We are all saved through Christ. That is the infinite and individual Atonement. It applies to you, and me, individually.
|Us in front of Roman ruins of Amphitheater|
|Roman Ruins Amphitheater in Plovdiv|
|Hotel we stayed at in Ruse, on Romanian Border|
|Us near Danube River, Romania on far shore|
|Our drivers and guides, Elder Neuenswander and Elder Frandsen|
|Building in Central Square of Ruse|
|Beach on Black Sea, Varna|
|Roman Bath ruins in Plovdiv|
|View from our hotel room in Varna|
|Cathedral of the Assumption -Varna|
This week we have included some pictures of the sights we saw as we traveled. Each city has its own character and charm. Even though we are not anxious to make the bumpy drive again anytime soon, there are places we would like to explore more extensively. Bulgaria is a beautiful country with the only exception being those structures that were built during a time in the past when beauty was not a priority or even a consideration. We hope you enjoy the sights even a fraction of how much we did.
Elder and Sister Segeberg