I didn't quite know if or when I'd ever be able to say "We've made it!", but here I am!
WE MADE IT!!!!
A few weeks ago we received our visas and we were so excited knowing that we could finally be granted entrance into Bulgaria. Within 24 hours we were informed that Bulgaria had deemed the United States a red zone (based on the US Covid cases) and that we were not going to be granted entry in Bulgaria. We were crushed. We spent about 24 hours grieving that we were so close to getting to Bulgaria, and feeling like a rug had been pulled from beneath our feet yet again.
The next day we contacted all of our superiors and requested help navigating this hurdle. We called the Embassy of Bulgaria in Washington, DC, where we had applied for our Visas, and they informed us that the only way around this road block was to fly into a different country, (one that was either classified as a green zone or an orange zone) stay for no less than 3 days, and then fly from there to Bulgaria. This is where the Church of the Nazarene truly showed us that we are one big family.
Within a matter of 48 hours we were able to get plane tickets switched, housing accommodations made, airport pick ups arranged and a plan that we hoped would work.
We flew into Zurich, Switzerland and stayed with our dear friends Doug and Jen Mann! We are so grateful to them for their hospitality while we were recovering from jet lag and preparing to leave for Bulgaria.
We arrived on Thursday, September 23rd and had so many wonderful memories while there. We walked along the Rhine River, visited the Rheinfalls, had dinner with new friends at an amazing Italian restaurant, visited beautiful cities, went on walks, met the Eurasia regional team, and spent time soaking in the beautiful architecture of the area.
After 6 days in Switzerland we left for the airport unsure if we would be allowed on the plane. We made it through the first step as we were given boarding passes and all of our luggage was checked in at the counter. As we approached the passport control and even the boarding gate for our plane we were still nervous, but as we sat in our chairs, buckled in ready for take off I felt a peace that everything would be just fine.
We landed in Bulgaria and we were so overjoyed! We had an extremely nice Customs officer who asked us all about why we would be coming to Bulgaria. We collected all 11 suitcases, 5 carry-ons, 2 car seats and 1 wagon and slowly moved our way out of the airport. Pastor Nikolay and Vesko met us there and it was truly a surreal moment of realizing we had actually made it. We stood waiting for them to drive around so we could load our bags and I caught myself staring off at the buildings beyond the airport property realizing that we were, in fact, finally in Sofia where we had been trying to get for almost a year.
We are settled into our rental apartment while we work on setting up our permanent home. We've set up new phone numbers, set a date for installation of our home internet, ordered appliances to be delivered, bought Jude and Kate any toy they wanted in a toy store (one of the promises we made them while packing up and giving away some of their toys), ordered furniture to be delivered, and Joshua learned to navigate a city of 1.2 Million in a manual. We've also met some incredibly helpful people. Soon I will write to you all about my new friend Lydia who has been absolutely amazing in helping us in so many ways!
We are tired and excited, overwhelmed and overjoyed, missing what we know as home and loving exploring a new home, and truly blessed in so many ways. I know that we would not have been able to make it this far without your constant prayers, text messages, calls, and social media comments over the past 7 days. The Lord is truly working all things out for our good.
Thanks for loving us and supporting us in prayer. The coming week will be hectic as we try to set up a home before we are to be out of the apartment, but we know that the Lord who hasn't left us yet won't leave us now. The song "Never Once" by Matt Redman was on repeat on my phone during most of our flights. I truly can't express how much these lyrics were a comfort to me. Maybe they can be the same for you. (click the video below to listen)