Monday, May 25, 2009

Memories From Last Year...

Recently, the team began adding comments to some of our pics from last year in our private group on Facebook. I thought it would be nice to share those pics, and our memories, here on the blog for everyone to enjoy. I'll share a couple each day when I don't have something else to write about... Here goes!

We all wrote messages and stuck them in the unfinished walls of the Blagovest church. How amazing it will be to one day sit in the finished sanctuary and be able to look to where I know it lays! My verse was Psalm 127:1... "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it..."

(Mike Kern)

The day this picture was taken was one of my favorite memories of BG. I was painting the walls of the church and felt such a joy in my heart. I knew the Lord had given me a gift in painting and now i was using that to bless others. It was almost an overwhelming feeling to see how the Lord took our gifts and our passions and used them that trip. He took my love for art and painting to bless the church of sofia. That day we also went to the gypsy village. It was the most amazing thing. Barbi was not there to help us do things with the kids, and we didnt know we needed some thing prepared. They asked about a game, so we made them up, then we were told hte kids were too loud we needed something quieter. So i said hannah tell a story we will take care of the rest. She began telling the story of David and Goliath. I was the giant and shae was David, Sara was the king and it was great. Shae swung her purse at me and i hit the grown hard! the kids just laughed an laughed. We did Noahs ark next, me and shae were every animal in the book! The kids had so much fun and we were so blessed. I saw the Lord use our gift of working with children. We used his word and our silly attitudes to make the story real and they loved it. That was my favorite day in bg by far!

(Linzi White)

This is Eti, she translates for us when we are teaching the kids at the camp... We were doing a Hawaiian theme that year. We brought the kids sand dollars and told them the story of Jesus using the sand dollar. Our main focus was to teach them that God has shown His love for us and His message of salvation in all of creation. We just have to look closely and pay attention and then we will see His "fingerprints" on our world. We will take it a little further this year and challenge the kids daily to be looking for "God sightings"... to pay attention to the things He does in our lives everyday, we often miss these things because we are not looking for them. This is our teams challenge to everyone. How have you seen God in your life today? Then tell somebody, in this way we are encouraged that God is at work in ours lives and we encourage others as well.

(Barbie Robnett)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Yard Sale Today!

Day One of our final two-day yard sale has begun. As the sun slips over the horizon behind us we rub the sleep from our eyes and marvel at how many yard sale junkies are venturing out at 6 am! Right now, we're enjoying the cool morning air but yesterday was almost 110 degrees so we're bound to be a bit warm later.

Even though its Friday, most of the team is out in force (those with the day off) and the mood is cheerful, even at this awful hour. Customers have been trickling in by two's and three's at a steady pace and our travels are growing by a few dollar bills at a time.

Our "Team Member of the Day" award goes out to Marinna Hunt who is up early and spending her birthday outdoors selling other people's stuff to complete strangers. Happy 15th, Marinna! Or, in Bulgarian... Chestit Rozhden Den!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Down to the Wire

We're under eight weeks now to our departure for Bulgaria and we're almost at the point of no return for determining who will make up the final team. Our airline tickets have to be purchased in full by the end of next week so May 15th is the deadline for each team member to have raised $1700. As it stands right now, three of our team members have commitments from family members to meet the need, one teen is still waiting for parental permission to go, and another three team members are desperately short of the necessary funds. We also have one teenager who is still waiting on a birth certificate to obtain a passport.

Please keep the team in prayer for these needs! We understand that God opens doors and closes doors, so we eagerly wait on Him to see how He will build His team this year. Pray especially for those who feel God has called them to go but have not yet seen the provision for that calling. If you are able, consider whether you might be able to support them financially as well.

As I wrote this, it occurred to me that I have not named the team at any point yet in this blog. This group has been meeting together in training meetings, language lessons, and fundraiser activities for several months now in preparation for our trip. They are:

Pastor Chuck & Lynda Kelly
Vance & Barbi Robnett
Brianna Robnett
Brad Robnett
Mike Kern
Megan Kern*
Joey Leslie
Linzi White
Jordan Hunt
Marinna Hunt*
Kenne Probst
Shae Pottmeyer
Richard Marquis*
(* first-year team members)

On a side note, the Robnetts are going over with the team but will be staying in Bulgaria for 3 months as a family. Please make sure to keep them in prayer even after the team returns as God has granted them this extended time of ministry.

If you have any questions about the ministry we do in Bulgaria, or just want to hear some amazing stories about what God is doing over there, please talk to any of the team who have been there and we will be soooo happy to share!

Only 54 more days!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Говорите ли Български? (Do you speak Bulgarian?)

One of the most enjoyable preparations for the trip has been learning the Bulgarian language. Prior to going last year, I took the time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic phrases. While in Bulgaria, I learn a few more phrases and became more comfortable reading the signs and such. When I left, I determined to learn much more before returning. Fortunately, God has provided an excellent instructor in Barbi Robnett, who has been taking professional lessons for some time now. She has begun passing on her knowledge to interested most of the members of our team in weekly lessons on Wednesday evenings before church.

Of course, most of the people we meet in Bulgaria speak at least some English, but some, including most of the gypsy people, do not. Even a basic vocabulary in their native tongue allows us to connect through conversation. Since building relationships is the primary focus of our ministry, the ability to communicate with each other is a pretty big deal.

However, conversation is not the only reason for learning the language. Far too often, Americans venture forth into the world as ambassadors of... well, Americanism! As citizens of a self-sufficent and prosperous superpower, we can easily demonstrate an unconscious lack of humility when dealing with other cultures. It is easy to assume that our ways are the best ways and that the world speaks English because of our global influence. Such arrogance is hardly conducive to ministry! Many in the world are automatically suspicious of American motives anytime we advance beyond our own borders. As citizens of God's kingdom and His ambassadors, we must seek a better way. By taking time to learn the language of those we serve amongst, we demonstrate humility and unity with our fellow laborers. I have seen firsthand as Bulgarian hearts were opened to their American brothers and sisters in Christ by something as simple as us attempting to sing along with them in their own language during a worship service.

One day, we will all communicate together effortlessly in some heavenly tongue without translators or interpretation errors. The language, cultural, and physical barriers will drop as we give up our temporary eartly citizenships and go home to the kingdom where our ultimate allegiances lie. Until then, we must do all that we can to make those barriers as meaningless as possible.