Updated: Feb 23, 2022
I would say that it is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of our first month in Bulgaria, but this has been a journey of belief. Over the past few weeks, as we have navigated the city, purchased furniture, met with immigration, bought groceries, cleaned house, and registered our vehicle, we have been reminded that each of these things is the result of faith, prayers, and support. We have seen God in every seemingly mundane activity of establishing and getting “settled in” to Sofia.
To be honest, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We landed in Sofia and immediately went to get an idea of what would need to be done, so that we could move into our house. We spent our first 10 days in Sofia in an Air BNB and we did not have much time for extracurricular activities of any kind. We would get up each morning, eat breakfast and then head to the house or IKEA to purchase furniture, rugs, kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies, and other items. Those breakfasts often consisted of a run down to the nearest bakery (these are everywhere in Sofia and most are wonderful), where we would purchase pastries of every variety, sit by the trolley tracks, and eat while the children cheered, waved, and made a big curious scene of us all, as the green and yellow trolleys rolled by on the tracks, ringing their bells. These breakfasts were moments of peace and sabbath amidst the difficulties of navigating life in a new world.
We would then drive to the house, where we spent many hours cleaning, repairing, and preparing everything needed in order for us to live there with our children. We would then run to IKEA, where we would purchase our needed furniture and other items and have them shipped to the house. They would arrive and as a part of our home preparations we put together our couch, chair, coffee table, beds, chairs, table, and many other things. Each time we put together a piece of furniture we would stand back, look upon it, and consider that it is through the generosity, the faith, and the mission of God through the people of God that we are able to have such things. Did you know that when you give to missions in the Church of the Nazarene, that when your local church pays their missions budget, it means that new missionaries like our family have a budget, have money, from which to purchase these things? Thank you so much for your giving. Right now, my children are napping in beds, under blankets, I am sitting on a couch even now as I write this, listening to Katie make dinner in a kitchen, that is the result of the generous giving and missional responsibility of every person who has given to the World Evangelism Fund. If you do not know what I am talking about, or if you have any questions, please ask me. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook. It is too wonderful not to know about.
Our house in Sofia is now really beginning to feel like a home. We wake in the morning and have breakfast in our dining room, our kids play in their rooms, we pray, we study, and this Saturday for the first time we will host a Bulgarian friend for lunch. All the while we sit under the beauty of the southern slopes of Vitosha Mountain. We are so excited to continue to make this place our home, and to use this house as a tool for ministry. Please help us pray that many will come to Christ, will be exposed to Christ, will discover the love of Christ, as a result of the hospitality and love they experience in this house.
After about a week in the house we decided it was time to begin researching our city on our feet. We went downtown and explored some of the more historic sites, we visited several parks and playgrounds, and we even went up Vitosha Mountain and visited Dragalevtsi Monastery. Do you know that this is an enormous part of what it means to be a missionary? We must begin to know, to make a home, and to put down roots in a city, if we are to be a blessing to it. Just think of Jeremiah. Our dear Lord, when speaking to the people of God about their missionary responsibilities in a foreign city said, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:5-7) In essence, know the city well, make a genuine home there, plan to stay, and make your neighbors your family, if you would like to be a blessing to them. I think we often skip over this important passage and run straight to Jeremiah 29:11, because we love prosperous plans, the hope, and the future that God promises. Do we recognize that we can only get God’s prosperous plans for ourselves once we have recognized the call to connect, to know, to love, and to be family with those around us, those in our city, for whom God has equally important prosperous plans? Well, this is the work we are up to these days in Sofia. We are putting down roots, and seeking to connect with those around us.
Would you help us pray? Help us pray that God would make a way for us to connect with the people around us. Honestly, we find ourselves a bit isolated. We do not have regular places of employment where we can interact with co-workers, our children are not in school or daycare, we do not belong to any clubs, and we have no family or pre-existing relationships in Sofia. How then are we to connect with others? We must build relationships from scratch, so that we might share Christ with others. Would you pray for us as we do this? Would you pray that the LORD open doors for us to connect with parents and children at the parks and playgrounds? Would you help us pray that the Spirit would be with us in such a way that the broken are drawn in? Would you help us pray that we would know the right words to speak, actions to take, and silences to observe in our interactions with others?
This is what it means to be pioneer missionaries. This is what it means to be in an unreached place. This is what it means to be passionate for your city. We pray for urgency and wisdom in all things, and we are grateful for you, grateful for the call, and excited for the days that lay ahead.