Monday, March 23, 2009

This winter I didn’t have any big trips abroad so it’s been good to spend these months at home together with Vanya and the children. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any snow in Varna (except for one night when we went out near our apartment block and played with snowballs; in the morning the snow was almost gone – Varna!) so the winter vacation and the weekends we played at home J. We also played a couple of times basketball and football with Stefan and Monica in a playground near Stefan’s kindergarten. Monica started training basketball for one of the city sports clubs and I enjoy very much taking her to the gym and watching her play. Stefan prefers football (soccer) and we have used a small light ball at home to play ‘home football’. Sometimes Debi would also join us but she prefers reading, listening to music or chatting with her skype friends. The other day Monica also asked me to open a skype account for her and I told her that first she has to learn to touch-type on the computer. So, after she practiced a couple of days and learned to touch-type slowly, I opened an account for her in skype. I am amazed that already most of her friends use skype (she is in third grade). Of course, there’s a time limit for the girls to use the computer, about half an hour a day. J Apart from playing football, Stefan likes learning English, drawing pictures, and reading Bulgarian. The other day he drew a picture of our students meeting at our place and wrote on it: “This is where we meet (house) This is the BCSU stodent group. Bible stody.” I thought that was genious!

After the semester started Vanya has been quite busy with many meetings with students for discipleship, planning and prayer, and Bible studies. House chores is also quite time-demanding for her, having in mind she has to cook about 3 times a week (each time preparing at least two meals at the same time) for 3 growing kids and a husband all of whom seem to be hungry all the time. I try to help her in the chores and we thank God that the children help us get them done, too. But it is still a lot of work. She also takes care of a graduates group in Varna and of the BCSU student grouup in Shumen.

We lost an extended family member - three weeks ago Vanya’s granny passed away. Vanya got to know the news 5 mins before her seminar on Dealing with Different Personalities at the BCSU Leadership Conference, but with God’s help the seminar went well. We had to leave before the end of the conference in order to be there for the funeral. Although we had expected it Vanya had to cope with the loss as she loved her grandmother very much. It was good also for us to be there and witness to some of the many people who came to say farewell.

Most of my time in the last four months has been taken by work on my dissertation in theology. I finished my draft and am now waiting for the corrections by my supervisor. I have also started work on my last module, Mission in Context, and have two more essays to write. It’s been way too long so Vanya says she will throw a party after my graduation in November. J Besides, I have also tried to fundraise among some graduates here in Varna, and am planning a trip to Sofia in April, when I will meet with more grads. I also help Vanya by going to one of the student groups in Varna, discipling a couple of students, leading seminars, etc. The 2 student groups in Varna started 3 projects this semester – a seekers bible study group called “TopSpot”, using the TopSpot DVD (students invite their friends by showing them some of the TopSpot videoclips on a flash memory); another one is the so called “offline café”, in which they meet in twos for building deeper friendships within the group, and the “1+1” project, in which they are supposed to meet with their non-Christian friends. All these meetings are supposed to take place weekly and we pray that they help them grow in accepting and understanding each other, building lasting friendships and witnessing more actively to their colleagues. Also, we had a visit by the apologist Peter Payne and his wife Janet, in which our students were able to ask lots of questions and learn how better to share their faith with their colleagues.

Another thing we were involved in was a press conference and a student demonstration against violence. Recently violence among students and youths has significantly increased so we decided to make a public statement, being a Christian student movement. We asked university authorities to consider cancelling the text in university regulations banning any activities of religious organisations on campus. A couple of TV stations and local newspapers covered our initiative quite well so we hope to be able to make other public statements in the future and ‘knock on the door’ until it opens. At another event, the student demonstration of 3000 students in Varna on the occasion of a ruthlessly killed student by her colleague, a few of our students mixed with their colleagues and were able to share their faith with them.

And, lastly, since January Vanya and I have also led the youth group at our church. It is a group of about 50-60 youths, from 15 to 30 years of age. It’s been a challenge but it is also a source of joy as we see youths starting to change and to think about some areas in their beliefs and practices. Most of the youths hadn’t really studied the Bible themselves so we hope to be able to teach them do that and think critically for themselves, not just take for granted what has been preached from the pulpit.