Friday, May 27, 2011

A New Team

As some of you may have heard, although most of you probably haven't, the team will be getting a new addition soon. The Albania team encountered a lot of unforseen difficulties while in Albania, and the decision was made, by them and by some "higher-ups", that they would be better suited in other places. So as a result, Johnna Hill will be joining the team here in Razgrad. Right now, she's staying in Sofia with the team there and will move here when the girls move into their apartment. Join us in praying for our new team. We have been able to adjust to "Razgrad" life. The town is starting to become familiar to us, as well as some of the local people. Johnna has not been able to have this comfort since she left the United States. We're getting excited to introduce her to our new home and we wish to say that the Razgrad team is no longer complete until she arrives. We hope she can come and get settled in soon.

-Jake & Katelyn

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bachelor Pads, Language Barriers, & Futbol

Before I say anything at all, let me first say that there is so much I could say, already, that I almost don't even really feel like writing anything. There's no way that I could express all the things that are going on. I'm sure everyone on my team, as well as everyone scattered across the region, feels some of the same.

First, some logistical stuff. As we had mentioned before, we thought we were going to be living in Razgrad for the first part of the summer and then moving to Varna for the second part. But because renting out two apartments in Varna, one for the guys and one for the girls, would be too expensive, we will be living in Razgrad the whole summer. We'll be traveling to Varna quite a bit it sounds like though, but we're still not really sure.
Graham & I are staying in an apartment together. It's a one room studio apartment, with a bed and a pull out couch. I have the bed for now but we'll see how long Graham's "strong back" can last on the pull out. We might have to switch it up down the road. The rent is pretty good and it sounds like utilities won't be too bad either. How many people can say that their first real apartment was in Bulgaria??
For now, Katelyn & Bailey are staying with the pastor here, Nikolay Kolev (!/nickolew), and his wife and two daughters. His daughters are about our age and speak very good English. We've been fortunate for that because we've been able to pick up on a lot of the language relatively quickly I think. But it's still very hard. But we'll get to that later. In about a week now, Katelyn & Bailey will move into their apartment as well. They'll have a 2 bedroom, with a kitchen, and wireless we're pretty sure. It belongs to someone from the church who's moving away for a few months so they won't have to pay for utilities, so that's pretty nice.

Pastor Nikolay was out of town when we first got here, but we finally got to talk to him yesterday about what we'd be doing this summer. There's no set plan or model, but he expressed a desire for us to just live out our lives here as an example, especially for the youth. There are certain tasks that he wishes us to carry out, most notably the hydroponics camp around June, and then various other things around the church, such as maybe starting a futbol league. But over and above that, it sounds like he just wants us to join in the life of the church in whatever ways we can. He said he wants to use our strengths.

Tomorrow, on Sunday, Nikolay asked us to speak and just tell a little bit about ourselves, whatever we want to say. We are going to Varna on Monday and then Tuesday is May 24th, which is a big celebration of the Cyrillic alphabet. Apparently there will be a parade/festival sort of thing, so that's pretty exciting.

I know Bailey has already put up some pictures, so check them out. Things have been relatively good here, all things considered. Keep praying for us.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On the Move

Four days. It's crazy. I drove by the airport the other day and was visualizing myself and my team walking through the airport and saying goodbye and all that other fun stuff (Parting Words from the LOST soundtrack was playing). As I did so, I was made exceedingly aware of the fact that all that I see, all I know, all I have, all that I taste, smell, and feel would not be available to me for the next 3 months. The very interstate which I was driving on, which I drive on 3 or 4 times a week, I wouldn't see for 12 weeks. Not that I care about the interstate, but that loss of familiarity, of comfort was made powerfully present to me. I was talking with Preston the other day and he said, "I probably haven't been away from any of the guys for 3 months since... I was born."
I think school had been a mental block for me up until that point. But no more. I wish I could tell you that I had some flash of insight at this point, some romanticized vision of things that brought an overwhelming sense of peace. But I didn't. And I haven't. At this point, I think our team has heard the least about what things will be like over there. I don't say that to complain, it's just that after hearing certain things about the other teams, such as Michael and one of the three girls on the Romania team having to live alone or the Vidrare team having to cook all their own meals, it makes me wonder what sort of things our team hasn't heard yet.

Two things stand out to me this week and in previous weeks. The words of two great men. The first:

"Those who are living in anxiety and fear have no time or energy for the common good."

These are the words of Walter Brueggemann, who is a renowned Old Testament scholar. He's referring to the practicing of neighboring. We all have fears and anxieties. Some understandable, some not. But I pray that we never cling to our lives so tightly that our fears and anxieties ever get us to the point where we're so scared that we forget about those who Jesus called our neighbor.

The second:
"We're beaten and blown by the wind,
blown by the wind,
And when I go there, I go there with You
It's all I can do."

These are the words of Bono, in Where the Streets Have No Name. With all the stuff I have to do before I leave, I feel a little beaten, a little weathered down by the wind. Some things I feel guilty about, some things I haven't handled as well as I could've or should've (I still don't know a lick of Bulgarian). But all I can (ever) do  is go with God where He is taking me, because He is on the move. And I truly am excited. How could I not be? I hope my somber demeanor in this post hasn't made the reader doubt my eagerness, surety, & joy in going. But I guess all I'm saying is that it probably won't be easy.