The flight left Dulles at 6:30 PM on Monday. We landed in Frankfort at 8 AM local time. It was 2 AM EDT. After a 1:50 minute layover we were on our way to Sofia, Bulgaria. We arrived at Sofia at 1 PM local time, 5 AM EDT time. While the flights were great none of us got much sleep. We were running on the adrenaline of our excitement about the adventure we were about to experience.
We were greeted by Owen Paun our friend and fellow member of Grace Hill Church. We went straight to a mall and had lunch.
Esperanza and I last had dinner with Owen at the National Harbor little more than a month ago. We traveled with Nick Jones, one of our pastors at Grace Hill and Kim McCullough, the wife of our teaching pastor, Allan and Nathaniel Collinsworth, a fellow Grace Hill member.
In Bulgaria, the accoutrements of modern capitalism are everywhere, McDonald’s, Shell gas stations with convenience stores, etc. In many ways, it feels just like America save the Cyrillic alphabet of the Bulgarian language on the signs, yet all of this was surrounded by a certain coldness, the haunting remnants of the bygone communist era. Soviet-style buildings to house the masses that were just plain cement buildings lacking as much in character as they once did glasnost. The locals look western in dress and appearance and while basically friendly are mostly stoic and reserved, going about their daily lives.
However, one neighbor at the house where we are staying stopped over and was enormously friendly. He came to welcome us and brought a bottle of a chilled liqueur that he made himself. They call it Rakia. He gave us the phone numbers of his household and we were instructed that if we needed anything at all to call. That was a tremendous lesson in hospitality. We’ve been having a discussion as a church about our need to live out the gospel by showing hospitality. It’s almost as if God said, “ok let me show you what Allan was talking about in his sermon on Sunday.”
Owen and Nansi arrived later in the evening and we made sandwiches and had a delicious salad that Nansi made. It is a traditional Bulgarian salad they call Shopska. We had not seen Nansi since April. We talked with great excitement to be together again as we laughed and sipped Rakia. Owen would intersperse the conversation with local history lessons and complaints about Bulgarian bureaucracy. We were all exhausted from the trip and finally retired for the evening.
This is a guest post written by a member of a short-term team. Click here to read Day 2.