Saturday, June 11, 2011

Getting Close

Our departure date is almost upon us and, with everything else going on with the church as well, the time is sure to fly by! Zach and Linzi return from the high school summer camp today, along with Megan, and Megan and I return next week for the junior high camp. The following week will be our church's Vacation Bible School. Then, we've got the weekend and a few days and we're off to Vegas to catch a plane! Somewhere in there, we all have to finish up the lessons we'll be teaching and pack our suitcases, along with all the supplies we'll be bringing for the camp at the Black Sea. Some of us also have gifts to buy for friends in Bulgaria and things to take care of for the families we're leaving behind. Keep us in prayer for these next few weeks as we scramble to wrap it all up.

Megan and Marinna paint at Blaga Vest
I also want to share a little about our schedule once we're there. We will arrive on Thursday, about noon, and will be met by friends from the Blaga Vest (Good News) church in Sofia. We will probably grab a bite to eat and head over to where we are staying. Pastor Ludmil and the Blaga Vest congregation have been constructing a new church building for some time now and they have built an apartment into the top floor for visiting missionaries and the like. They graciously allow us to stay there while we are in Sofia. Each year, we have been honored to help with the church construction, which is being done by the congregation as finances allow. We have helped with painting, cleanup, washing newly installed windows, pulling weeds... anywhere we can be useful.

On Friday and/or Saturday, we will travel to Elin Pelin, a nearby town outside
The Romani congregation at Stol
Sofia. There, we will meet with Pastor Niki and his wife Tsveta and their church. We are also hoping to go with them to Stolnik, a nearby Romani (gypsy) village where Niki also pastors a small flock. Spending time with the Romani is a blessing that comes with a burden, as the gypsies are very economically disadvantaged and highly discriminated against in Bulgaria and throughout Europe. I have written previously about the challenges they face, but it is such an honor to be sent by the Lord to reach out to these people in love. We are also hoping to have some opportunity to bless Niki and Tsveta with some manual labor from our team to help with some improvements as well.

Sunday morning, we will depart from Sofia (on the western side of Bulgaria) for the Black Sea (on the far eastern edge). We will meet up with the church downtown where they will load a charter bus full of all the kids and we will begin our 7-hour trek across the country. Driving in Bulgaria is always exciting (no, really... VERY exciting) and the countryside is absolutely beautiful. Nothing compares to the view of fields of sunflowers stretching for miles!

Joey teaches a lesson at the Black
Once we arrive in Chernomoretz, on the Black Sea, we'll spend the next six days pouring our hearts into about 60 kids of all ages. Our team will work with the Bulgarian teachers to teach bible lessons on the theme of trusting God, as well as doing arts and crafts, teambuilding exercises, supervising kids during the daily beach time, and much more. The days are long but fulfilling!

On the following Sunday, we'll make the drive back across the country to Sofia. We'll spend the next couple of days with the Blagavest church, helping where we can. Our ladies usually participate in a bible study for women at the Truth and Hope Foundation, and we'll get some shopping and sightseeing in as well. Finally, we'll head to the airport for the long flight back home!

While there, I'll be posting blog updates as often as possible. We have internet access while in Sofia, so expect daily updates on the front and back ends of the trip, but at the Black Sea, we have to walk into the town and visit an Internet cafe. We'll shoot for daily updates, but it may be hit and miss. Our updates will include thoughts from different team members every day. Linzi is planning on doing a video blog as well, which we'll post here.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers while we're gone. Also, pray about whether God would call you to return with us next year. God bless!

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