27 April 2009


A lot has happened and nothing at the same time. We are in Sofia, Bulgaria, where people, just like in Turkey, have the 13-note cell phone ring that gets stuck in our heads and makes the classical song whose title has escaped us no longer appealing. On the way here on the bus, we saw two women stuff cigarette packs in their pants and up their shirts before showing their passports. They tried to talk to us later (probably afraid we'd tattled), but we just replied in German and shrugged our shoulders. Should we have said something to the friendly guard who spoke to us about Dresden in German? I'm still debating in my mind. Was that dishonest of us?

Then someone decided to smoke in the bus so the last hour and a half was misery for me and made me very sick. Handing the baton over to Petula didn't work too well as she is terrified of asking people for directions (even though she's the one who can read Russian letters) and would rather stand around freezing.

Saturday we saw some sites in the freezing rain, wearing summer clothes. I still laugh when I think of being under the eaves of an enormous socialist building eating bread and strawberries for lunch when the closest lightning and thunder I've ever experienced brought on a downpour and made Petula jump and grab my arm. At least we had our umbrellas with us. I was amazed to see a monument to Bulgaria because during the Holocaust, people gathered together and saved their 49,000 Jews by getting them safely to Israel. The churches here are very, very dark. And the art museum fascinated me because the artists seemed to have adopted new styles at least 50 years later than other countries. In the evening, after we finally found our way back to the hostel, we bought lots of goodies at the bakery. The day also included some nice gospel-sharing with the hostel owners.

Sunday we were an hour early for church in our still-wet shoes. We couldn't believe the amount of missionaries here. One of them asked us if we'd yet been confused by the nodding for no and shaking of the head for yes. We hadn't even noticed but that might have explained one bit of confusion we had in finding a famous old church. (Which we never found, by the way.) We got to hear some sarcastic tidbits included with the translation of the talks and some deep, insightful comments in Sunday School. I hummed all the hymns since I haven't learned all the Cyrillic letters. Then a guy who had served a mission in Germany invited us to lunch, but we ended up being with him all day, even gracing a fabulous free Easter concert in a hall amazingly like Abravanel Hall. We also found out there is a YSA conference next weekend in Varna where I wanted to go. We have made several connections to Petula's old mission companion, friends of mine from high school and dating, and my cousin Dave.

Today we are going to see a monastery and then to family night (which includes the entire ward), and then we'll take the midnight bus to Bucharest. I'm a bit sad to not see Varna or the Rila Monastery, but we're out of money and, frankly, energy. I hope I can get a lot of reading done (I'm still debating my thesis subject) and then sleep deeply on the bus. I'm also hoping for warmer weather.


  1. wow, bulgaria, you really did it. you survived bulgaria! it's not the most tourist-friendly place, is it? maybe it's improved...

  2. I'm caught up on your blog. Hooray! Oh the tales you tell. :) Can't wait to see pictures.