International Ministries

Back in Bulgaria

August 29, 2015 Journal
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It hardly seems possible that a year has passed and we are now back in Bulgaria trying to get settled.  Our year based in Colorado was a wonderful time seeing family, friends and visiting our many supporters around the country. For those we were unable to connect with, we still continue to keep you in our prayers and will try our best to see you next time we are back.

As we shared stories of our ministry during the year we often spoke of the new church and ministry center being built by Sofia Baptist Church. After being back and seeing the progress all we can say is “WOW”! The building is beautiful and nearly ready. Plans are underway for an official grand opening on September 20th. There will be activities all weekend with many guests coming from around the world to celebrate the hard work that has been put in to making this dream a reality. Official permission has been received to occupy the building, so now the work continues to finish up some of the details. There is also a great need for help furnishing the building—chairs for the sanctuary and class rooms, tables, cabinets and many other items. Please pray that the funding for this part of the project will come soon, so all can go without a hitch as they celebrate what God has done, and is continuing to do, through Sofia Baptist Church.

The first room we saw when we visited the new building is the space where the coffee shop will one day open. There is still a lot of work to do to make this dream a reality, but just seeing the room and the potential was exciting. As we get settled in, and after the grand opening, Tom will begin to lay the foundation for the coffee shop—creating the business and getting started on the necessary permits.

The literacy program had another successful year and they are looking forward to getting started again in September. The plans now are to start a week earlier than usual because they want the children to perform a song or two for the opening ceremonies. Starting early will give them more time for rehearsals. There is also serious consideration being given to expanding the literacy program to five days per week. This would allow for more consistent contact with the children, which will translate into more progress being made.  Please pray as the church considers this move as it will involve hiring and salary support for a full-time director.

We have had the opportunity to meet with the team that goes on outreach and get an update on all that has happened during the year. A couple of exciting things have taken place during the year. Once a month the team now drives to the town where many of the girls come from and does an outreach on the highway there. This has allowed them to better understand some of the underlining issues facing the girls. The other big news is that the team is now working with one woman who has decided to come off the streets. She is older than many of the others and has been on the streets for many years. The team is walking with her through the process providing support and training. She is coming each day and participating in a Bible study and then working on various types of jewelry and hand work. It is exciting to see the progress she has made and we ask that you pray for her as she works through the many challenges she faces.

Transitions are always a challenge, but this one seems to be an even bigger one. After 12+ years in the same house, we moved out last year before our return to Colorado and now find ourselves moving into a new apartment in Sofia. We are thankful that we've found a new home and the rental agreement will soon be signed (pictures later). The other major challenge is adjusting to life with both boys on another continent. They were both away at college last year, but close enough that we saw them on a regular basis so the empty nest did not seem too extreme. Now, however, the distance is greater and our connection with them will be electronic. We are so thankful for technology!
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