Elian & Radoslava --Ruth
I haven’t mentioned one of the main organizers of our trip yet: Radoslava. Before traveling to Hasovitsa, we stayed a few days at Elian & Slava’s house. They have two wonderful and lively daughters, Teddy (8) and Vicky (5). Teddy likes surpass the boys (she’s a confirmed tomboy), and yet she likes to dress up and dance. We’ve established her future career to be a lion tamer :) Vicky is constantly singing –in fact, due to her 5-year-old English skills, this was one of the main ways we got to know her. She loves to hold hands or hug. She’s also got an eye for fashion, and we’ve set her out as a future fashion designer, in the classic style of frilly flouncy dresses. Their father Elian works with computers as well and works admirably hard at his and Slava’s small business. By the end of the trip, Slava felt like a very close aunt for me. She’s a historian, and has a unique story or saying for every little custom or site one comes across. It was so sad to leave her, her girls, her wisdom and stories behind.
Jivko and Iliana – Louise
Jivko and Iliana have three children: Stephan (5), Gabbie (3) and Sammy (1). Jivko is a computer programmer and has his own business. We didn’t get to know him very well, because the only time that we had to talk to him was when we went out for dinner one night with his family and Elian and Radoslava’s family. The majority of the evening, their heads were huddled close as they debated and discussed the latest technology. During their deep conversations however, Ruth and I were able to talk with Iliana and Radoslava and get to know them. Iliana studied a total of five years to become a speech therapist, after which she promptly became a secretary for her pastor. Sometimes it’s strange how little we use our degrees and diplomas in our professions! Eventually she met and married Jivko (their love story is sweet and quite funny as well). Each of their three children are the sweetest, bubbliest, most giggling children you ever could meet. Their ability to speak English was low, yet they understood a lot more than I thought they would. They went absolutely berserk when we’d tickle them; it was hilarious to watch their antics when we played the ‘tickle game’ with them.
Jifko and Gabbie
Eliana and Sammy
Gabby and Stephan
More Hasovitsa Happenings (because we know this is WAY too long already!) --Ruth
- Enjoying coffee with cow-fresh milk (after fishing out all the floaties, of course!)
- Delicious Rodopian cooking: potato banitsa, croissants Bulgarian-style, flower tea, etc. etc.
- Feeding the multitude with pizza and quesadillas, thanks to the integral part of the ladies…, also made Terra Tor (a cold soup of cucumber and yoghurt) and Banitsa R-rr-rrruttt! (“Ruth” Bulgarianized –be sure to roll the “r”)
- The late nights continued… lots of planning, knocking our heads together to gather “lesson” plans or, in reality, game plans for the next day (there’s a pun in there for you, Dad ;)
- Lots of late night talks over tea: telling ridiculous stories, jokes, past experiences… We learned the “Ruchenitsa”, a traditional Bulgarian wedding dance (no worries Mom, we don’t expect to put that to use ;)… Practising the chicken dance (some fun pictures from that :P)
- The crafty Tinka teaching us how to say “I want to be a Bulgarian bride!” :)
- The never ending songs of the children… every time the first words of “My God is so Big” were shouted, we would groan internally, grit our teeth and exuberantly (aka dutifully) join in :)
- Seeing lines of children holding hands, walking along a mountain path and singing “My God is So Big” because they wanted to…
- Walking along mountain paths... hmmm, beautiful
- Meeting Elena, the daughter of Tinka. At 14, she discusses the Scriptural references of CS. Lewis and Tolkien with her strongly atheist teachers! She was sweet, intelligent, always questioning the reasons behind concepts, always looking deeper. In two short days she became a good friend.
- Walking 3 km to the nearby village of Pisanitsa (or “Pizzanitza” as the kids called it) to buy ice cream. When the shopkeeper was nowhere to be found, we walked to his nearby home/ hotel, and from there received a ride back to the shop in a very old, sputtering Mercedes Benz that looked as if it would like to shoot off the mountain side
THE END... for now
So that’s a small snippet of our experiences in Bulgaria. We hope to update you on the continuing adventures of Lou and Ru :P upon our return (internet access has been difficult!) complete with PICTURES.... I PROMISE!! :) God is blessing us and keeping us safe. We thank those of you who have been praying - we’ve really felt the Lord’s protection and guiding hand throughout the entire trip.