This weekend, we made a trip to a village called Stubel, which we have visited twice previously. In Stubel, there is a small Nazarene church that is still under construction. The pastor of the church hosts us each time we go. We have already learned so much from her example. In our short time in Stubel (one week total), we have gotten a glimpse of what true hospitality looks like, and we've seen the kind of faithfulness and trust in God that we all aspire to.
On Friday, Jessica called us and told us that the pastor needed us to come to Stubel and move everything out of the church so the builders could start working on things before a work and witness team comes next month to paint the building. The original plan was to go on Monday and come back today, and we were all looking forward to what would have been a free day on Saturday. Yet, we jumped at the chance to spend time with the people in Stubel. Although we can't really explain it, the people in that village have already stolen our hearts. So we left early Saturday morning and began removing all of the inner contents of the church. We lifted 15 foot planks, about 200 heavy shingles, swept, went through clothes that had been donated, and I even got my hair done by some sweet little girls. The first day, we got a lot done and felt very accomplished, but more than that, we got to spend time in communion with the people we're starting to call friends.
Sunday, we had a day of rest. Todd and Jessica went back to Sofia for church, while the rest of us attended church in Stubel and then slept and or read the day away. Church was a wonderful time, even though there was no one to translate for us. The kids came in sporadically, and our bench was pretty crowded by the time church ended. At one point, a little boy came in with his little sister and each of them were holding a bundle of roses that they clearly ripped off of a bush and they handed them to me, Kathleen and Dana. The children of Stubel want to do anything they can to show their love for us.
Monday we worked on the house where we will be staying for ten days to run a camp in July. The house was intended to be used for one of the pastor's many shops, but for whatever reason, it has remained unused. We cleared everything out of it and proceeded to clean the whole place. This time, all of the kids came to help us. It was a little chaotic, but it was so sweet to see how much they wanted to help.
Admittedly, it's difficult for me to write about our time in Stubel. Yes, we did a lot while we were there, but the things we are learning and the ways in which God is speaking to us while we are there go far beyond the work. I feel a deep connection to the village, and I know some of my other teammates do as well. Dana and I stayed up talking in bed one night about coming back someday and renting the house we stay in from the pastor indefinitely. There is no way to know what God has in store for us, but we're listening for His guidance. Overall it was a wonderful, if not challenging time in Stubel. We have a lot to learn about love, service, prayer and what it really means to be a part of the Kingdom.
I hope you will continue to pray for our team as we embark on the next two months of this journey. We are spending very little time in Sofia the rest of the summer, and I know that although we're excited for what's next, each of us is struggling with the idea of being away from our friends here.
Slova na Bog (Praise God),