We are about to spend our fourth and final night with our host families in Asenovgrad. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the stay, but for some it was more stretching than others due to a larger language barrier. My host brother George is fluent in English. On the other hand, Kendal and Brandon, among others, are getting pretty good at charades.
The days have been packed with museums, excellent Bulgarian food, Roman ruins, bus rides, TOALETTNA searches, a good number of Churches and a Mosque. We have had rain for significant chunks of each of the last four days. Andrew tells us that he can’t control the weather, but we suspect that he is lying and saving up all the good weather for Greece. At one point, we were caught in the street when a downpour broke out.
Fortunately we could take cover up against the walls of the houses because each consecutive level sticks out a few feet. (We learned that the houses were originally constructed this way to aid in the emptying of chamber pots. Rain cover is good, too, though). Hallelujah, during the majority of the renowned Karlovo Rose Festival it did not rain at all! Be excited for some rose related souvenirs and some ridiculous pictures of Nigel posing with the ‘Rose Queen.’ The rose festival was full of traditional clothing, dancing, bagpipes, good harmony, and a ridiculous background of jutting cloud-swathed mountains complimenting row upon row of the most fragrant roses on earth.
Our host families all came from the same church, so today all twenty-three of us contributed to packing out their small building. We sang some praise songs in Bulgarian. Many of us recognized the songs, and it was moving to sing in two languages at once. Later in the service, some of us shared some remarks with the congregation and Cory said that the singing made him feel like we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ.
For the afternoon we were able to relax as a group. First we had a debrief meeting, and then we went bowling and had pizza. It is noteworthy that during the past few days four or five Bulgarian youth from the church have been travelling with us and getting to know us. (They even went bowling).
Overall the trip is going well, and the challenges we are facing, from sore throats to rain to language infancy, will only serve to fortify our awesomeness.