Bulgaria Day 1 & 2
We have arrived in Kazanlak, Bulgaria after a long day of travel. Our flight from Dallas arrived a little early in Frankfurt, which ended up being a good thing as we had to race all around the airport to get to our next flight. The gate number had changed from what it was originally and the line for security was one of the longest we had ever seen. We barely made it through in time (Praise the Lord) and made in to Sofia safely where we met up with George. All of our luggage made it and we are exhausted, but we are ready to start a this amazing trip, after a well-deserved night's rest of course. We can't wait to see what God has planned for us! :)
Today (June 25th) was our first full day in Bulgaria and it was an eventful one. We traveled to the orphanage in Maglizh to help them re-paint the playground/recreational area that they have there. Once we got there, everyone jumped in right away to help. We rolled up our sleeves, put on some gloves, and got to work. Unfortunately, we didn't get to stay as long as we would have liked due to rain, but we did accomplish quite a bit in short amount of time we were outside. The new paint brightened everything up and made the place seem more lively and fun. It was also extremely humbling for all of us. In addition to having physical and mental disabilities, the kids do not have much at this orphanage. The orphanage is not given a lot of money and support from the government so they have to make due with what they can afford. It challenged all of us and made us so thankful for all that we have.
The Bible study time at the church was good. The rain drove some people away, but the few that were there were responsive and engaging with us. It was so sweet to see how deeply these church members love Jesus. Later on, we had a surprise birthday party for Phil at George and Laura's house where George's parents told us all these stories about what it was like to be a Christian in Bulgaria years ago when it was a Soviet country. We don't know what true persecution is like and his parents showed us what it is. It takes bravery and strength that we can't imagine. Nowadays, when you travel to Bulgaria, you have to register with the police how long you are staying and what you are doing here. The policeman who stamped our papers said, "I know you're not here on tourism business, but I know you're doing good work. Keep doing it." The country still has a low percentage of people who believe in the gospel, but it's better than it was. All in all, it's been a uplifting, eye−opening, "God thing" kind of a day where we were reminded to encourage one another in our faith. - Jordan Kiefer