Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Visit from Szczecin

In just a few hours a couple of our closest friends fly in from Poland.  We are very excited.  Our girls are excited as well.  They have a daughter who is about Alexis' age, so for them a week of parties is about to begin.  It is becoming a bit of a tradition to spend New Years with them.  Since we met them we have spent every New Years together that we have been in Europe.

Let the tri-lingual crazy fun begin!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Countdown

This morning we loaded the family in the car and took a trip downtown for that favorite of holiday traditions, bureaucratic paperwork.

It started at the neighborhood registration office.  This is the office where one can officially register himself as living in the neighborhood.  Ironically the office is not in the neighborhood.

We have been there several times in the past months in attempts to register me as living at our address in Sofia.  This is one of the final steps in making me a permanent resident.  They needed to register me and give me a number.  Three weeks ago they said the number would be ready in a week.  A week later they said the number might be ready by Wednesday the 21st.  Wednesday we called and they had no idea what we were talking about.  Friday we went down there in person and asked if the number was ready after three weeks of waiting.  They said, “Oh yes, it should be.”  After waiting for half an hour they handed us a piece of paper with a four digit number hand written on it.  I can understand how this might take three weeks to produce.  (We are pretty sure they issued the number while we were waiting.)

Then we drove to the other side of down town to the immigration office to give them the four digit hand written number, fill out forms identical to forms we filled out months ago, and pay another 90 Leva (about $60) to get my card.  Unfortunately, while we were filling out the forms and running up and down the block to the nearby office supply store to get all the paperwork copied with 3 kids in tow, the kind and sympathetic office worker went on break and the grumpy office worker with the bad haircut replaced her.  We managed to brighten up her day a bit through a combination of lame jokes and the antics of our cute kids.

In 10 business days my residency card should be finally ready.  Just in time as my temporary residency card expires early next month.

This was the last big thing we had to do before Christmas.  Now it is just a matter of last minute shopping, meal preparation for tomorrow night, and then the Christmas fun begins!

And now for something completely different . . .

Yesterday was Sophie’s class Christmas presentation.  It was full of little kids in traditional Bulgarian costumes presenting the Christmas story and singing songs.  

Sophie had been working on her lines for weeks and she was so proud that she said them all correctly.  Roughly translated into English they mean, “I hear an angelic voice.  ‘Today is a bright holiday.  God has come to us in Jesus.  Today is the day of His birth!.’”  (Yes, public schools are very different here.)

Immediately after she said her line, a little boy on stage left jumped up and said, “Dad, that one is Sophia!”  I think someone has a crush.  I asked Sophie about the boy later.  She informed us that she likes him because he is funny.

There was singing, a visit from Father Christmas, and traditional Bulgarian Christmas foods to follow. 

Sophie the little Bulgarian girl!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Right Language for Once.

I wrote a letter to a Polish friend today.  Though I'm no longer living in Poland, I still use Polish from time to time.  Actually, if you asked Sasha, she would probably tell you that I use it more often then I would admit.  It seems to be an almost weekly event when Sasha tells me that I'm speaking the wrong language to someone.

Though my Bulgarian is getting better, I still tend to throw in a Polish word from time to time.  This usually happens when I can't remember the Bulgarian word I'm trying to say.  The language center of my brain just says what it thinks is right, and by the time the rest of my brain weighs in on the matter it I've already spoken a word that no one around me understands.

It is getting better though.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

End of the Line . . . I hope

We are about to reach the end of the line.  Today I was finally able to get registered as a resident of the house we have been living in since last winter.  Next week I go back to the registration office to pick up a number.  Then I bring this number to the immigration office.  In exchange, if all goes well, I should get a permanent residency card and become an official permanent resident of Bulgaria.

This is great news, and you think I would be more excited, but let's face it, until I get the card in my hand I will not consider the process done.  There always seems to be one more step.

So keep us in your prayers.  I'm hoping to be able to report next Friday that the immigration process is over (for a long while).  Please pray that all goes smoothly and that we can finish this off.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Conference Summary

The last guests for the Sofia conference left today.  Together we learned about and explored Sofia.  We also discussed human trafficking and the terrible realities of this hidden slave market around the world.  We finished up by meeting with our area leaders and area city team leaders.

I am very tired from this past week, but I was also sad to see everyone go.  It was a humbling honor to have this meeting in our city, and it was very enjoyable to be able to share our city and ministry with them.