Thursday, October 27, 2011

Language Learning Update

Earlier this week I finished up my second language course.  This was both very exciting, and well ahead of schedule.  I had intended on sticking with this language program until I at least finished the third course and I still intend on doing so, but I'm going to significantly lower the hours I attend the language school for the third course.

Why you ask?  For several reasons.  First of all, though I have only finished the second course, according to my native speaking wife, I am very close to where I need to be to work in full time ministry here.  I'm not quite there yet, but I can definitely lower my hours and still get there well ahead of schedule.  The one thing that is significantly missing in my Bulgarian is my theological vocabulary.  This brings us to the second reason I am lowering my language school hours.  I need more time to learn theological terms in Bulgarian.  By lowering my school hours I will have extra time to study theological material with a beautiful Bulgarian woman who has a degree in Bible theology and biblical Greek (Sasha).

I have often heard the term, "God's economy."  This term refers to, among other things, how events that seem to have no connection, and in some cases may even appear to be a waste of resources, can come together to in a way no human could have planned.  This is certainly the case now.  Had Sasha and I not learned Polish together years ago, we would not be in a good position to evaluate my language progress now and make wise decisions regarding what my next steps should be.  Had Sasha not studied theology she would not have the vocabulary in both languages to teach me what I now need to know.  As it stands, I have the perfect teacher for the next phase in my Bulgarian development living in the same house as me fully equipped and ready to give me free lessons.  All this happened through what would appear to be random and unconnected circumstances.

"I love it when a plan comes together."  -Col. Hannibal Smith

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekend at Home

Two weeks ago we were in Drianovo.  Last week we were in Kostenets.  This week we finally get to stay home.  This is a good thing as we all have been fighting a pretty nasty cold.  I have not even been able to run for the past couple of weeks because of the chest congestion.

Thanks to so many of your for your generous donations.  Our ministry account levels have gone up, and we have been able to reverse the salary cut we took for this month.  We still have a net cut in our salary since we arrived in Bulgaria last winter, but the amount of the cut has gone from over 30% to about 10%.  This is much easier to live with.

It is amazing how God provides for our needs!  Thanks to all of you!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Update

We had a great trip to Dryanovo and Veliko Turnovo this weekend.  In Dryanovo we visited Sasha's grandparents.  The girls loved seeing their great-grandparents for the first time.  It was a fun trip for David as well as he had the chance to sit down and hear some stories about a 5 year old Sasha first hand from Grandpa.  He obviously thought very highly of her.  The last time Dave visited them (in 2000) he did not speak Bulgarian, so there was little he could say and even less he could understand.  This time he was able to join in conversation with them.

On Saturday we left the girls with their grandparents and great-grandparents while we visited the former capital of Bulgaria and home to a prominent University.  Veliko Turnovo is a beautiful city with something fun for just about everyone.  Located on a hillside with steep streets there is hardly anyplace in the town that does not have a good view.  Below are some pictures to give you an idea of some of the great sites.

In the afternoon we also toured the Dryanovo Monastery and caves before returning back to town only to find out that our girls had been spoiled rotten by Grandma and Grandpa all morning at the town fair.
A few facts about Veliko Turnovo and Drianovo Monastery from Wikipedia:

Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgarian: Велико Търново, Veliko Tŭrnovo) is a city in north central BulgariaVeliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the " and the administrative centre of City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. Until 1965 the name of the town was Tarnovo, and this is still the common name. The old city is situated on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora raising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. Tsarevets housed the palaces of the Bulgarian Emperors and the Patriarchate with the Patriarchal Cathedral, as well as a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls. Trapezitsa was known for its many churches and as the main residence of the nobility. In the Middle Ages it was among the main European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School and literature.

The Dryanovo Monastery (Bulgarian: Дряновски манастир, Dryanovski manastir) is a functioning Bulgarian Orthodox monastery situated in the Andaka River Valley, in Bulgarka Nature Park in the central part of Bulgaria five kilometers away from the town of Dryanovo. It was founded in the 12th century, during the Second Bulgarian Empire, and is dedicated to Archangel Michael. Twice burnt down and pillaged during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, the monastery was restored at it present place in 1845. It was the site of several battles during the April Uprising of 1876. 

Veliko Turnovo

Street vendors

We stopped at the quaint restaurant for lunch
Super delicious chicken soup Sasha had for lunch

David always orders this Ovcharska Salad when he goes to a restaurant!
At the restaurant
A view of Veliko Turnovo (former capital of Bulgaria)

After Veliko Turnovo we went to Drianovo Monastery

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trip North

Tomorrow our family will take a trip north for the weekend to the city Drianovo where Sasha's two surviving Grandparents live.  Our girls have not met these grandparents yet, so this is going to be a big weekend for all of us.  It has been 11 years since either Sasha or I have seen these grandparents as well.  The last time we saw them we were a young engaged couple, and I was still a student.  It is about time we see them again.