Monday, May 23, 2011

When It Rains...

Hello from Sofia!

It still feels a little strange to be saying that and, after only a week, I can't say that we are exactly experts at living successfully in another culture. Every day is a new lesson, which brings me to today.

What was supposed to be a simple trip to a nearby bazaar to pick up some fruits, veggies, and other necessities for dinner, turned into something else entirely. After riding the tram a couple stops over (and then an extra stop if you are me and Lauren), we found ourselves in a completely different part of the city, struggling to figure out things that any child could know: why are old men playing chess behind this newstand? Why are there carnival rides by the side of the road? How do you say "kilo" in Bulgarian?

After wandering through a maze of shops selling everything from clothes to more clothes (and everything in between), we found some shops with fruits and veggies and proceeded to get some tomatoes, some eggplant, and two kilos of cherries (not without some difficulty). We had some problems trying to explain that we wanted more cherries than the vendor was originally giving us so, with our small knowledge of Bulgarian, we said "mnogo" (more) and motioned as if we were picking up an entire armful of cherries. Eventually, the matter was sorted and we were on our way. Ideally, the rest of the trip would have included some more shopping, perhaps an investigation of the carnival rides, who knows?

But Mother Nature had other plans. What began as something I can only describe as an urban sandstorm (maybe dust-storm is more accurate), turned into a full on rainstorm that drenched us from head to foot. We raced back to the tram, only to have Dana literally break one of her sandals in half. We made it to the tram and eventually made it back to the office where we had been meeting with Jessica, our supervisor. As we entered and heard Jessica ask, "Did you get soaked?" all we could do was laugh. Even now, as I am typing this, laughter is the best response to today. It was not a calamity, or a tragedy. It was merely another adventure in this crazy Bulgarian summer, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Saturday, May 21, 2011


Today is sabbath day, after a crazy week we rewarded ourselves with sleeping in until 11, or 1 if you're Todd, eating pancakes for breakfast and later today we are going to see a movie with the Sunbergs.

Where to start? The adventure began with two awesome days on campus where we were able to learn SO much and have fun as a group. It was really great, Kathy could'nt have done better!  I think probably my favorite part was the first activity that we did, we had a scavenger hunt with our teams and we had to stop at different places on campus to see people and get certain documents, the people we were getting these documents from where various characters, a nurse, a banker, social services, immigration, etc--mad props to Dorothee, Heather and Mike Jackson!!! Everyone who helped made it such a fun day!

Then we had a couple days of travel that went over fairly seamlessly, no missed flights (although we had a couple close calls) and in the end we all got our bags before we parted ways. When we got here we had a few days with everyone where we had some more cultural training but we were all pretty jet lagged so it was more like a time for us to rest and site see! As the groups started heading out to their sites for the summer the experience began to feel more and more real. However, even as I sit here in our home apartment for the  summer and i hear the Bulgarian music that is coming in my window from the celebration happening in the street I am still finding it hard to believe that God has blessed me with this amazing experience.

Yesterday we had the awesome chance to go to a celebration in the village of Vidrare where we dropped off the last team. The kids at the school put on a program that was in celebration of the Bulgarian alphabet and of their teachers! It was so cool to see some of the faces that we met last summer and to go back to the village that captured our hearts. After we left there we went to a small village a few hours away called Stubel, there we put on a short childrens program and played games, shared  meal and just learned about this small village. The people there welcomed us with open arms and those children taught me so much about the language! I think they really loved being able to teach us, they laughed at us quite  bit! We taught them how to play sharks and minnows and also duck duck goose, but we called it cotka cotka cuche, which is cat cat dog. They were so crazy!! We learned so much about every day lives there and the work that they do. One lady was home for a month but had to go back to Italy at the end of May because that is where she works, she went on to tell me that my skin is too white and i need to spend more time in the sun :) We will be visiting the village several times through out the summer and i am so happy for that. I am so excited to see how these relationships will grow and develop.

As i sit here reflecting on the time we have spent here so far i am SO excited for what the Lord is already doing and so humbled that he has called us to be used for his kingdom. I have so much to learn from the people here and i look forward to the friendships that are going to be built. Please continue to pray for us that we may constantly be learning and growing. Thank you all for keeping up with us!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


 I just had a strange, but comforting experience.  I was laying in bed getting ready to do my devotions before falling asleep and I was thinking about a passage someone quoted the other day and I wanted to read it.  So I got out my Bible and thought to myself that the passage may have been 2 Corinthians 12.  I flipped open my Bible and happened to land on 2 Corinthians 12 where I must have haphazardly tucked a sheet of paper recently.  The passage was not the one I had been thinking of, but the message was an interesting one.   Paul is talking about a vision someone received when he was taken up into heaven, and Paul was incredibly excited about it.  He goes on to discuss what happened as a result of his excitement: "

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you for power is made perfect in weakness." So I will boast all the more gladly in weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 

Last Summer while we were staying in Sofia, I had my first (and what I would like to be my last) experience with demons.  I won't go into detail, but that night when I went to bed, I began to feel affliction from the enemy and I could see evil spirits attacking me.  I have never felt more weak than I did that night.  I prayed and prayed with my friend Mallory.  We cried out to God all night, and after a while we did feel that He was with us, but relief did not come.  Finally, hours later, we decided to sleep.  I began to drift into that middle-consciousness between waking and sleeping, and as I did I began to see the face of God.  I saw the silhouette of Christ standing before His people as we worshiped Him.   I saw many images I can't really describe.  Finally, I saw Him praying on some sort of plateau, and then all I saw was the ground.  The earth crumbled and the weight on my chest was lifted.  As I came to, a bright light was shining on the left side of my bed, and when I opened my eyes, it was gone.  This wasn't a dream, and to say that God was present that night and that His grace was sufficient is a vast understatement.  I have never felt anything more real in my life.

Over the past several months there have been times when I have wondered if something similar could happen while I'm overseas this Summer.  I shouldn't be afraid because ever since that night I haven't had a single nightmare.  God has truly been good to me.  It's obvious God wanted me to read that text and be reminded that if I do come in such close contact with the enemy, His grace is more than sufficient to get me through.  It was that night, it was for Paul, it will be this Summer, and it will be forevermore. God is already working, and I know that in any situation this Summer, He'll be right there with us.

Thanks be to God.


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Today marks exactly fourteen days until our team, along with fifteen other students, will fly from Nashville to D.C., from D.C. to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt to Sofia. We will arrive in Sofia the next day and will begin training with the entire group for the next few days. This is an exciting time, but it has also been slightly rushed and stressful. In preparing for twelve weeks away from home, I've begun to feel the pressure of the time crunch to see my friends and family, move out of my apartment, finish up my senior year, attend all the graduation festivities, pack, and so on and so forth. Time is certainly running out, and at times it's overwhelming. But lately I've been thinking a lot about the disciples. I often find myself thinking about their call to follow Christ. The image the Bible depicts makes it seem that they just picked up and left all they had. They left their friends, their families, their jobs and their belongings. They didn't have time to pack a bag with everything they thought they might need. They just answered the call, got up, and left. This is quite the challenge, because I too am called to follow Christ into unknown territory. I too am called to be a disciple.

Not only were the disciples unprepared in terms of saying goodbye to their loved ones, but I would imagine they were also unprepared for their future ventures spiritually. They were given no warning about the things they would soon witness. They were just thrown into ministry and they were forced to learn as they went. I have been preparing for this trip for a few months now. I have been praying, doing my devotions, and contemplating the many things I've learned in my mission courses. Yet, like the disciples, I know that in many ways I am going to have to learn as I go. There are some things I just can't prepare for. All I can do is trust that God is with me and that the Spirit will mold me and shape me in my time in Bulgaria.

I am incredibly excited about the three months that lie ahead of me and my team. I spent some time in Sofia last Summer, and the place grabbed hold of my heart in a way no other place ever has. I have a peace in my heart that Sofia is where I'm meant to be, so I know all the anxiety is unnecessary. And three months really isn't a fair comparison to the three years the disciples spent in ministry with Jesus. I will return home to my family and friends in several short weeks. But I know that I will come back a changed person, although I have no picture now of what that might look like. God is going to work in our lives in amazing, and unexpected ways this Summer.

I would ask those of you who are following this blog to please commit to pray for our team as we embark on this journey. There is so much hurt and darkness in the part of the world we will soon call home. Yet, I know that God is already doing amazing things there. We are so lucky to be invited into what He is doing in Sofia already.

Please pray that we will be open to the Spirit, that we will have perseverance, patience, and grace in every situation, and that we will truly live with the love, peace and compassion of Christ in every situation and struggle we face in this journey. Pray that we will lead lives of discipleship each day.

In Christ,



My Freshman year at Trevecca, my dorm held an event called "Fort Night," a competition between the four floors of the dorm in which each dorm had to build a fort with minimal supplies and time. I wasn't sure that a good enough fort could be built with our limited resources, but we gave it our best effort anyway. We didn't win the competition, but we had fun and bonded as a floor. And really, that's all that matters.

With only 14 days left stateside, it is hard not to look back on how I got to this point. It is difficult to not reminisce or get nostalgic about the last three years here at Trevecca. In a lot of ways, this trip is a culmination of who we have become here at Trevecca. Three years ago as a Senior graduating from high school, I am pretty confident in saying that I would never have gone on this trip, but God has done some amazing things in my life since then and I am really excited to be a part of this experience.

Honestly, we don't really know what we are getting ourselves into: we might not have everything we need and we may not have enough time to get ready, but we all have the same desire to see how God is working in Bulgaria and how we can be a part of that. That's why we are going, and hopefully, through this blog, you will be able to see how God is working through us and changing us.

God be with you,