The last 3 mornings I have (accidentally) read the same Psalm over and over. The first verse of chapter 75 says,
We give thanks to You, O God: we give thanks, for Your name is near. We recount Your wondrous deeds.
I am going to try to “recount His wondrous deeds” in the next few days, as I post about our trip. This honestly is mostly for our family (Andy and I) to remember, but I want to write it here, and give the glory to God for such an amazing trip to Bulgaria. This past week has been a whirlwind, and there was never time to write more than a few words each day in our journal. But, God has been so faithful in “showing up” throughout this process, and giving us assurance that it was His calling that brought us here to begin with. These posts may seem too detailed, or unimportant to most, but for us it is the story of His faithfulness.
DAY 1: Travel from Home to Sofia, Bulgaria
My parents arrived at our house to pick us (and the kids) up at 9AM. We headed to Evansville, and I sat snuggled in the back seat with my girls. I laughed, saying, “I bet no one else is heading from Evansville to BULGARIA today!” When we arrived at the airport, we began getting our luggage out of the back of the van. As I watched Andy pull my suitcase out and set it on the ground, I suddenly became overwhelmed with emotions. I realized in that moment that the reason I own that piece of luggage was because 14 years prior, I bought it……to make a trip to Bulgaria. As ridiculous as that might sound, the “full-circle” moment ignited a slew of emotions I wasn’t prepared for. I worked desperately to hold it together the next hour and enjoy our last bit of time with the kids. As we prayed with them and said our good-byes, I wanted nothing more than to get through security and bawl my eyes out. Andy went through first with no problems, but I had to wait a little longer. When I finally made it through, I saw him talking to two guys. I walked over, and Andy introduced me to them saying he worked with them, and that one of the men was even a groomsmen in his sister’s wedding.
“You’ll never believe where they are going?” he said. (Yes, you guessed it–Bulgaria.) This shock was just the distraction I needed to keep from having a come-apart. We chatted with them about their impending trip to check out a copper mine in Bulgaria, and our trip to meet our son. This was the first of many “balms upon the journey,” as I referred to them over and over again.
We flew from Evansville to Atlanta, then boarded the 8.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Paris. The plane was huge, and they informed us that it was a full flight. We were “lucky” enough to be stuck in the middle of two other people in the middle aisle. For how huge the plane was, the seats were very small, with almost no leg room. I quickly text my family…..”Packed like sardines on this flight.” As we prepared for take-off, we noticed there were seats still open next to our row. The stewardess came by and asked the man next to me if he would like to move over for more room….which allowed us to move over and have an aisle seat and an open seat next to Andy. Of all the estimated 540 people on the flight, the 2 seats next to us ended up open to allow more room…….another balm. We rested as much as you can on a plane and watched movies for the duration of the flight.
I had dreaded Paris Airport as every.single.person. I asked said to avoid it at ALL cost. We couldn’t. So I had prayed for a good experience….for kind employees and no lost luggage. Thankfully, we had no problems. We got through customs in 23 minutes, and had 3 hours to lay down and rest, and get a coffee. Then, we boarded our last flight to Sofia, Bulgaria.
As we walked through the gate to find our driver, missionary friends that moved to Sofia in July came running towards us bearing gifts and hugs and love. It’s not every day you fly halfway around the world to be greeted by people from home! We were driven to our apartment, went to exchange money, and were given a quick run-down of what the week would look like.
At this point we had been travelling for 21+ hours, so we freshened up, and then headed to the pedistrian walking-street 2 blocks away, where we ate a good meal of Shopska salad, brushetta, and risotto. Then we headed back to the apartment to get a MUCH needed night of sleep before we would head to Blagoevgrad the next morning to meet our boy.