Sunday, March 27, 2011


Yesterday there was a picture on the front page of a local newspaper.  In the picture was a woman in her 70's sitting in what looked like a child's fort made out of cardboard boxes.  It was her home.  Homeless is nothing new.  We saw homeless people on a daily basis when we lived in Chicago.  Typically the were victims of mental illness or had some sort of substance abuse addiction or a combination of the two.  What struck me about this woman was her background story.  She is a retired nurse.  Her pension is a meager $150 a month.  She is highly educated and apparently in full retention of her faculties.  The article was brief and gave very little information, but there was no mention of substance abuse or mental illness.  It is always sad to see homeless people, but it is even sadder when it is a well educated hard working person.  This is a country in which poverty is a real problem in a way that many in the U.S. cannot comprehend.

Driving down the road this afternoon I passed by several young women in tight short skirts standing on the side of the road seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  These women are looking to make money in the only way they know how.  I have passed such women on the road on a regular basis since we moved to Europe 5 years ago, but there seem to be many more here in the Sofia area.  My instinct is to look on such women with repulsion and contempt.  After all, they are engaged in a shameful and repugnant vocation.  Then I remember the story of a similar woman washing Jesus feet with her hair.  Would I even let such a woman touch me?  I have been doing research on human trafficking.  Bulgaria is one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking and sex trafficking.  It is a terrible problem that must be addressed by the body of Christ.

Looking at the problems of poverty, prostitution, and human trafficking I am overwhelmed.  What can we do about such major problems.  Where do we even begin.  Human trafficking, poverty, crime, corruption.  The need for the Savior here is great.  Please pray with us that God would send additional teammates to join in this ministry.  Pray also for wisdom in how to handle each of the issues that come across our path.  Praise Him that we are not alone in our ministry here.  Praise Him that through Jesus, all things are made new!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Some of you may have heard how Bulgaria is a crossroads country.  It is a member of the European Union, but it is also shares borders with three non E.U. countries.  One of these countries (Turkey) lies largely in Asia.  Bulgaria is a crossroads between the east and the west, and between Europe and Asia.
The crossroads aspect of Bulgaria can be seen in the Bulgaria language class that David is taking.  It is a small class.  There are only three students.  Yet, we have a students from three different countries present.  There is a man from the Ukraine, a woman from China, and David from America.  Between the three of us we speak at least 5 different languages (and we are working on number 6 together).
Bulgaria is an entry point into the European Union, and as such there are people from all over the world coming to Sofia.  In the last week alone we have see people from at least 4 different continents.  If you want to meet people from around the world, come live in Sofia!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I really wanted to write a big post with pictures and videos about my trip to the orphanage yesterday but we found out that it might jeopardize the adoption of the little girl I went to see.  Instead I am just going to post the e-mail I wrote to her mother Susanna who is in the US.   I think you can get an idea about some of my experience there.  After the little girl gets adopted and is in the States I might post some of the pictures.  Here are the e-mails:

Dear Susanna,
I had a great trip today.  I am full of all kinds of emotions that will take time to process.  We left early this morning and after about a three hour bus ride, me and a friend of mine (another American missionary) arrived in Katerina’s town.  When we got to the orphanage we met with the director.The director quickly made arrangements to have the orphanage driver take us to the wholesale vendors where we would buy the needed nutrition and supplies for the orphanage.  But before that she let us make a short visit to Katerina’s floor for mentally disabled children.
Katerina’s room is at the end of a hallway.  And when we got there I knew right away who she was because of the pictures on your blog.  It’s hard not to fall in love with her as soon as you see her.  She is beautiful, sweet and absolutely precious.  She was very calm and alert the whole time.  She definitely has a personality though.  At first she didn’t want us to touch her much and was irritated because she didn’t know us.  But later she got used to us and became very calm and content.  I was amazed at how aware she was of everything around her.
After we spent some time with Katerina we left with the driver to go to the wholesale vendors and buy the food (mostly baby jars and cereal) and the rest of the supplies that were requested by the director.  This only took about an hour.  After that we went back to the orphanage.  This time when Katerina saw us she was all smiles and was super happy to see us. She was changed into another outfit and looked very cute.
I got to hold her a few times.  It was great fun.  She really is precious.  She doesn’t like to be held for long periods of time though.  I think she is so used to being in that crib that it’s almost unnatural for her to be out of it.  :(  Or she just feels safe there.
She looks so alert and aware of everything.  It almost seemed like if she could talk she would let us know what is going on.

We also got to see and visit with some of the other children there.  There is a program called granny/child where some of the children including Katerina get to spend four hours a day one on one with an older lady.  The ladies there said they have seen a significant improvement in the kids that do the program.  I can just imagine how great Katerina will do when she meets her family that loves and cares about her.
Toward the end of our visit I also had the chance to [bottle]feed Katerina.  It was really fun and she ate very well.  She ate a blended potato and meat puree and she seemed to really enjoy it.
[Look at her!!! Isn’t she precious!]
It was so hard to leave there today.  I felt better about leaving Katerina because I knew good things are coming for her.  She already has a loving family that can’t wait to bring her home.  But these other kids have no hope.  I would bring them all home too if I could.

I also took some videos and more pictures that I am going to send you.  Thank you so much for the privilege of meeting your sweet girl.  What a blessing.
In Christ,

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Trip North

Sasha has organized a two person trip to a town in northern Bulgaria.  It should only be a day trip if all goes according to plan.  She and a missionary from OC will be up early Wednesday morning to catch the bus.

In this town they will be visiting an orphanage and delivering some nutritional supplies provided by Christians from America specifically for this purpose.  They will also be checking in on a little girl who is in the process of being adopted by a couple in the U.S.  She is severely malnourished, and it is for her that this trip is taking place.

Growing up in a state run orphanage in Bulgaria can often be a nightmare.  The children are under government care, and, as in most countries, the government tends to run things with all the care and kindness of a stack of papers.  Children in such a situation are without hope, and when mentally handicapped like this little girl, the situation is even more hopeless, and the care even more miniscule.  The girl Sasha is going to visit is 9 years old, yet she weighs as much as a baby and is still eating through a bottle!

Please pray for safe travels for Sasha and her companion, and that the supplies will be well used.  Please also pray for this little girl, and for all the orphans in Bulgaria.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


A last year, Sophie was reading a book that discussed the job of a vet.  After looking at the pictures, she decided she wanted a pet.  We told her that when we move to Sofia, we will get her a hamster if she can prove that she is ready for one.

Since we moved into the house, Sophie has been working hard trying to prove that she is responsible enough for a hamster.  She never forgets anything, and she reminded us of what we said months ago.  She has been very good at taking care not just of herself, but of her sisters, and other household needs as well.

Sasha and I were getting a little worried about fulfilling our promise in a timely manner because we had not found a pet shop here yet, but this evening on our way home from an outing we saw one right in our neighborhood.  After supper, daddy and daughter went to pick out a hamster and a cage.

Sophie sang, danced, and trembled with excitement as she picked out a small gray female dwarf hamster.  We packed her in her newly assembled cage and brought her home.  (Sophie carried the food and bedding.)

On the way home she thought of a name.  Her little hamster is called "Jessa."  Jessa ran around the cage the whole way home, and for a good half hour after we got back to the house.  Then she fell asleep.  Sophie, being a good owner, also quickly and quietly went to bed as she did not want to wake Jessa up.

It is so much fun to watch our little girls grow and develop.  It is hard to believe one of our girls is not ready to take care of another living creature.  Well, I should say, she is ready to help taking care of another living creature.  We fully expect that when cage cleaning time comes, it will somehow turn out to be Daddy's job, but hey, that's what my Dad did when I had a hamster, and I want to be a good parent like him.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Holiday Week

There were two holidays this week in Bulgaria.  The first one was called "Baba Marta."  It stands for "Grandma March," and it takes place on March 1st.  Bulgarians wear red and white (usually in the form of a yarn bracelet or tassels) to celebrate the coming of spring.  The significance of the colors has been given many meanings, but my favorite is that it represents the two moods of Grandma March.  (Because March can be both hot and cold.)

At the first sign of spring (often the return of the storks) the bracelets are removed. They can be hung on a tree, thrown in a river (now thawed of course), or placed under a rock.

The other holiday was an official government holiday on March 3rd.  This is a very big national holiday in Bulgaria as it celebrates the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.  It is similar to our 4th of July in the US, but without the grilling of hamburgers and brats.  (I also did not see any fireworks.)  Sofia has a lot less people in it as many have gone out of town for the long weekend.  It is very nice for those driving through town as the traffic has been next to nothing.