Monday, July 7, 2014

Life at the Black Sea

On Saturday, we drove across Bulgaria to the small town of Chernomorets on the Black Sea coast. We'll be here until next Saturday helping with a camp for over 60 kids from around Bulgaria and Macedonia. Our team is helping watch over and interact with the kids, along with the teaching, games, and crafts.

Our morning begins early here, with a 6:45 meeting for all the adult leaders to discuss and pray about the upcoming day. We wake the kids at 7:30 and eat a hearty breakfast at 8. Then, its off to the beach for 3 hours of fun in the sun. We play in the water with the kids... throwing them in the air, splashing them, and carrying the smaller ones around. When the younger kids go in to the shore for a spell, we play a game called "Ring of Fire" with the older teens that involves a circle of players, a volleyball, and the occasional spike to the head... all in good fun!

By the time we head back to camp, everyone has worked up an appetite so its time for lunch. Meals are plentiful here so nobody leaves the table hungry unless its by choice. After a little free time, the younger kids are sent back to their bungalows for a time of rest and relaxation (aka, nap) and the team usually uses this time to go into town or to prepare for the afternoon's ministry.

At 4, the kids are split up into three groups by age for the afternoon lessons. The camp is using the Chronicles of Narnia book, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" as its theme and the lessons explore a different aspect of the book each day (living in two worlds, friendship, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption, choices, etc.). A number of the lessons will be taught by our team members who will work through a translator to share the message God has given them. After the lessons, there are different activities each day such as, a photo scavenger hunt, a craft, and more. Our team comes alongside the Bulgarian leaders to help out wherever we're needed.

Dinner kicks off at 7, followed by our evening service at 8 pm.  Most of the men on our team will be teaching an evening slot. I shared on Saturday night about Living in Two Worlds and Vernon will be teaching on Temptation and Betrayal this evening. After the service, there are additional activities planned and often some free time to go into town. The little kids get put to bed at 10 pm and the teens follow at 11.

Once everyone is in bed, our team still has ministry work to do. We hide small toys all over the camp for the kids to find in the morning. We also hide a special toy in a difficult to find spot and the one who finds it gets to choose a prize from our goodie bag. Then, there are ministry responsibilities that come up throughout the week.

Last night, we were up to 1 am making bottling root beer. You can't find root beer over here and we want to do root beer floats on Friday night, which is American night.It would have been ridiculous to try and bring the amount of root beer we needed in our suitcases, so we brought yeast (for the carbonation) and root beer extract with us. We got sugar and water here and ran a little assembly line to bottle 18 liters of the stuff last night. The concoction takes a few days for the yeast to do its thing and carbonate the drink, so we'll know more Thursday or Friday and I'll let you know how it turned out.

We get to bed around 12 or 1 am most nights and back up shortly after 6 the following morning to do it all over again! Keep us in your prayer for wisdom and direction, anointing and boldness, and strength to continue ministering in spite of the physical weakness we are all experiencing at one point or another. God is good and we're having a blast!

The ministry here is centered around relationship and example. We have an opportunity to develop real friendships with young people and the adults here, set an example with our love and service, and encourage our church family here in their walks with the Lord. What a privilege it is to be sent by God for such a valuable ministry! I can't wait to share more with you as the week progresses... God bless!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Belated Update

Sorry for the delay in posting this. We have been BUSY! Let me bring you up to speed on what we've been doing...

We arrived on a Tuesday and got a good night's sleep after a long day of traveling. Wednesday, we took the team into Sofia's city center to allow them to unwind and get to know the city we veterans have come to love. That night, we enjoyed listening to pastor Mite Goshev of Macedonia as he taught the word at the Blaga Vest church in Sofia.

Thursday was a completely new experience for our team. We partnered with the Resurrection Church in Fakulteta, a Roma community. The pastor, Nayden Borisov, rented a school's courtyard and brought in a well-known Roma singing group to lead in praise. We were amazed to see about 500 people show up for the event and I had the opportunity to preach a message on following Jesus Christ. Afterward, about 20 people came forward to accept Christ and then we prayed for the sick to be healed. We saw God move in supernatural ways and were truly blessed by the excitement of the Roma people.

On Friday, we took the team to the streets of Sofia and performed a short drama set to music that portrayed the gospel message in a powerful way. We performed the drama several times and plan to do so again at the Black Sea.

That night, we traveled to the village of Elin Pelin and met with the Bozhia Sila church there. Pastor Niki and his wife, Sveta, were away but we enjoyed a great church service with our family in that town. Afterward, we enjoyed several more hours of fellowship at a nearby restaurant before heading home.

Finally, on Saturday, we drove across the country to the Black Sea town of Chernomorets for a weeklong childrens camp. I'll bring you more on that in my next post. Keep us in prayer and God bless!

До скоро виждане! (See you soon!)
-Pastor Mike

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We're Here!

24 hours after leaving Bullhead City, the team has arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria and is now getting some much needed rest. We flew out of Las Vegas early Monday morning with stops in Newark, New Jersey and Munich, Germany before landing at the airport here in Bulgaria's capital city.

We just got back from a great pizza dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and now everyone is grabbing some sleep. It's 9:30 and, even though the sun hasn't fully set yet, eyelids are drooping (or downright sealed shut). I'll have more to share tomorrow but, for now, I just want to make sure everyone knows we got here ok so I can hit the hay as well.

Leka Nosht (Good Night)!