Category Archives: Bulgaria 2012

Resting in the questions

June 7

I cannot believe that we are flying back to the U.S. in just three days – It is surreal! I have learned, and experienced so much during my time here in Bulgaria. I feel like I have a lot more to learn here, and I am not ready to leave. Processing these past three weeks will take time, and prayer, because I believe that there are buried meanings to every experience I had.

I found faith-driven connections everywhere in Bulgaria, and that is truly remarkable. A country with as much history and culture as Bulgaria has an incredibly strong foundation upon which religion, churches/mosques, and core faith emerge.

I have seen this in the openness and hospitality of those around me, including my generous and overly patient host families. I have also heard this through the courageous stories of resilience, re-birth, and seeking reconciliation.

All-in-all, Bulgaria has begun to teach me about resting in the question. I believe these lessons will be re-learned throughout my entire life.

-Molly Boese

Icons of nature, history and the church

May 25

When in Bulgaria, you are sure to experience a few new things; including banistsa, stotinki, and even an earthquake! Around 3:00am on May 22nd, our cross-cultural group experienced the aftershocks of a 5.6 est. earthquake that damaged parts of Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria. No one from our group was injured, but it sure made for interesting conversation in the morning.

Student #1: Did you feel the earthquake last night?
Student #2: That was an earthquake?? I thought someone was jumping on my

After the earthquake, we made a trip into the Pirin Mountains. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our planned mountain hike. As we reached higher elevations, the rain began to fall and the idea of trekking through the snow became less and less appealing. We grabbed a few pictures by Baikushevata mura, the oldest tree in Bulgaria dating back 1300 years. From there, we shared a picnic lunch by the river, and returned to Bansko to play card games and enjoy cappuccino.

On Wednesday, the 23th, we took a short trip to Dobarsko, where we visited the Church of Theodore Tyro and Theodore Stratelates. Here we saw the famous (prophetic) icon of Jesus’ ascension on what appears to be a rocket ship – Very cool!

In the evening, we went to a cultural center in Bansko, where Daria’s photo exhibit, Baba’s Wisdom,  was displayed. While we were unable to understand most of the program, we could feel a lot of excitement and energy in the room. We were also able to share an authentic Bulgarian meal together, complete with endless meats, music, and even a solo from Daria’s father.

On the 24th, we left Bansko via train, and rode through the Rhodopi Mountains to the community of Asenovgrad. We enjoyed a meal at a government villa in Velingrad before continuing on to the Evangelical church in Asenovgrad, where we met our host families. Walking around Asenovgrad, we came upon a high school graduation. There were hundreds of people gathered outside, lots of yelling and car horns honking.

We will be spending the next 4 nights in Asenovgrad, traveling around this area and spending time with our host families. So much to see, hear, taste, and experience. Our time in Bulgaria is going too quickly.

-Molly Boese

Asenovgrad Host Families and the Rose Festival

Traditional Bulgarian singers/dancers at the rose festival 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. Rachal King at the rose festival

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.

-Lucas Schrock-Hurst

Greetings from Bansko

Bansko, Bulgaria/ all the studentsMay 21 2012

Здравей from Bansko!

We have arrived in Bulgaria after a very long day of travel. We left Harrisonburg at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon and arrived in Bansko at 4:30 in the afternoon Sunday, local time  With a seven hour time difference from the East coast, that is a travel time of 21 hours.  We were exhausted once we finally arrived here in Bansko but we tried our best to stay awake and finish out the day to get on a regular sleep schedule. Once we arrived in Bansko, Andrew and Daria led us on a tour of the city. We walked through the downtown center, with stone streets and sidewalks. I’m amazed at the beauty of the buildings and the wonderful backdrop of the Pirin Mountains. The city is friendly, with countless villagers coming up to Daria and greeting her with a homecoming welcome.
On Monday we went on another tour of the city, including a stop at the Orthodox church in the center of town. The church was filled with beautiful, colorful artwork on the walls, ceiling, and pillars. The front was filled with traditional paintings of icons. Later in the day we stopped at a museum that had a gallery filled with traditional icon paintings.
We passed many stray street dogs in the city center, Nigel even befriended a few of them. We have had many delicious, home cooked, Bulgarian meals. The food and city has been great to us. I look forward to the many exciting travels to come on the trip.
-John Barry