Friday, April 17, 2009

Bulgaria Day 6

Yesterday I found out about the two earthquakes the area experienced last week. I heard the news was reporting seismologists are predicting another tremor … but on a much larger scale. So while in conversation with my new friend who is a teacher …we talked about disaster preparedness …the subject came up that Bulgaria has no preparation in place to train the local children on how to prepare or survive a major quake. Being an ex-American Red Cross worker I was totally appalled and offered to give the her kids a lesson on how to prepare for disaster. She was very enthusiastic and we had the subject that I could wow them with while just speaking English for them.

Today has been busy. I started my morning by attending the 8th grade English class at one of the public schools. I was the guest teacher. The class went fabulously I had a group made up of 18 boys and 3 girls. The boys all wore uniforms, they were quite handsome. The girls were beautiful and might be future supermodels they were so pretty.

We started by my telling them about living in Oklahoma and explaining a little about my culture and how the culture in Bulgaria was very similar in its make up of citizens. Oklahoma’s heritage of Indian culture compared to the history of Bulgaria opening boarders to immigrants from other nations where persecution was taking effect.

We then went on to discuss the natural disasters that Oklahoman’s face: Tornados and floods to Bulgaria’s Earthquakes and Floods. I explained how we teach our children how to prepare. They were interested, I asked if any of them had a disaster plan and they all shook their heads in astonishment. I asked if they knew what to do in an event of an earthquake and again I got some answers but they were not good ones.

So I then pulled out a backpack that was filled with the items everyone should have who lives in an earthquake prone area. They were totally paying attention and nodded in agreement when I would explain the next item. I then told them what they needed to do to stay safe inside a building. Where to go and what to do, should they feel the floor start rocking under their feet.

Because they were such a good class I pulled out my bag of American Candy and gave each one of them two pieces. At the same time I showed them pictures of my kids and of my nieces and nephews. The boys seemed very interested in my daughter and my niece wondering if they might be coming for a visit anytime soon. I laughed.

We still had a little bit of time left before their next class and I asked if they had any questions… none forthcoming I grabbed my camera and said… “then I’ll ask the questions”… I went around and asked each one what they wanted to be when they grew up. They found it very interesting that someone would be interested in their goals and desires. I took each one’s picture and would comment on their choice.

I was very impressed with the group and found out that there were several in the class who were on the soccer team. I asked if they were going to have a game this week in hopes that I could go and watch. They were surprised I would be willing to come. Their tournament does not start until Monday so I can’t go.
After the class was dismissed one of the young ladies asked for my autograph … I said.. ”Sure but how about I give you my e-mail and you send me a letter” she gave me a big smile and said YES. My friend was wide eyed when she helped me pick up my stuff and told me that she was impressed that I held their attention for so long. It was fun.

My host who was also my taxi for the day met me in front of the school with a Turkish sandwich (GYRO) and hauled me to the next destination… an elementary school where I was asked to take pictures of the children who were going to be viewing the Jesus film. I started out helping move desks and chairs to get the room set up. Then suddenly I was wearing a Media hat and had to trouble shoot the sound system set up. I prayed constantly that I would be successful… I don’t read Turkish or Bulgarian and I don’t know what language the computer was showing me. I got it fixed and sat through two showings and shot a few pictures and about 30 minutes of video. It was a great experience.

The funny thing that happened was that one of the young boys that was in the village where I am staying just happened to be at this school. He and a few of his friends snuck into the second show because he wanted to show everyone that we were already friends. I had taken several pictures of him while on my walk on Sunday.

After a full day of educational establishments, my hostess picked me up and we headed back to the village for an item of importance. On our way we came upon a Muslim funeral. Ever the photographer I rolled down my window in the rain and began shooting. I got several shots of the men carrying the body, on what looked like a wooden bed, up the hill. I got the video out and captured several minutes of their procession. It was quite interesting.. no women were allowed.

Then it was a fly by drive by shooting as we videoed the track from the village into the city. The ride was rough but I think it will be good for what we are looking for when I begin to put the promotional video together. We spend about half and hour cruising around town and visited an Orthodox Church took some pictures then it was time to head to the office and meet up with the rest of my hosts.

We were invited to dinner at my new Korean friend’s home. They served an authentic Korean dinner along with chop sticks. I love using chopsticks. WE had a great time of fellowship and sharing time. The jr. hosts and their friends played and played having a great time as well. I took the family pictures as well as their “nanny” tutor who is teaching the children Korean. Their kids were extremely smart. The 4 year old speaks 5 languages. Amazing.

That was my day it was full! And my host just told me that my teacher friend wants me to come back to school this week and teach another class about earthquake safety. Hey I’m game. It was fun and if it keeps these kids safe during the next earthquake then well that will just make my day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bulgaria Days 3 & 4

Ok so sleep is a commodity one that I have not had much of for several days. I am amazed on how God is keeping me from having any migraines. Generally when I am running on less sleep than 5 or 6 hours a night I get a horrible one. At this point I haven’t even gotten close to one. Thank God.

Yesterday was filled with meeting new people. I met a couple who recently married. He is 50+ and she is in her 30’s, neither one had ever been married before which in this cultural is unusual. He served in a high position with the communist regime and with the communist fall serves as the manager and caretaker of a local Zoo and Park. She has an amazing story of God’s healing power. She was involved in a car accident several years before and had her leg severed. The doctors sewed it back on and never thought she would walk again… I videoed her story it is truly amazing.

They took us around their city and I got to see the world’s largest statue of Mary, the oldest Mosque in the Balkans and of course the zoo to see the newest addition. It’s really nice when you know the head honcho because then you get first class treatment. It was fun.

We went back towards their home and stopped in the town center. She hustled me out of the car and took me around to several key photopp locations. She speaks no English and me no Bulgarian or Turkish yet she was able to communicate with me what she wanted me to do. We arrived back at the car and went to their home and proceeded to have the largest pizza I have ever seen. It was an enjoyable evening and like the other nights got back to home well after 11pm and did not hit the sack until after 3am.

Easter Sunday! HE IS RISEN! What a wonderful day God provided today. The air was perfect, only a slight breeze and warm enough not to need a jacket. My hosts asked several others to join us for the celebration. I took the morning and walked up the dirt road and met a family that grows tobacco. They allowed me to take their picture. Very friendly I felt bad that I could not speak to them in their own language but they didn’t care. I showed them the pictures I took and shook their hands saying thank you. The grandmother of the group hugged me and kissed each side of my cheek.

The neighbor lady also took me on an excursion. She speaks no English either. We walked up the paths and visited one of the many fountains scattered around the nation. We met up with a shepherd he was quite the character. He had me take his picture and posed for several shots. I liked his face it spoke volumes,

The rest of the visitors came soon after I returned to the house. I felt like I was doing international studies class. I think there were 5 countries represented. It was amazing. The entire day has been great. Thanks everyone for your prayers. Keep them coming. I speak to an 8th grade class on Tuesday. It should be exciting. Can’t wait to take more pictures.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bulgaria Update

Good morning from beautiful sunny Bulgaria. I am in a small village three and ½ hours from Sophia. I arrived Thursday afternoon and was met with an exuberant welcome from my hosts. Their two little girls gave me huge hugs with squeals of delight. It was very exciting to know that they remembered me. I was very thankful that even though I was delayed because of filing a lost bag report…came to find out that they were delayed as well… They appeared at the same time I exited from Customs. God is very good to me, because I was thinking… ok Lord what do I do if they returned to the Hotel… I can’t remember where we are staying. I am so glad that God is in total control.

After we went to the hotel Jasmine and refreshed, it was on to dinner. Trout, Shopska salad, and some sort of chicken. The service was superb and the food was scrumptious. After dinner we went to visit an American couple who have lived in Sophia for over 12 years, He is a pastor with the American Baptist Church. They were very welcoming. We stayed for a couple hours then I began to have trouble keeping my eyes open. The flight over the big pond did not provide much rest. My total sleep time was less than four hours for a 36 hour space. We arrived back to the hotel, I hit the sack … it was 11p.m. I slept until 7a.m. no movement. Breakfast is included in the price of the hotel. At the Hotel Jasmine there is a wait staff to cater to your every need… wow. The omelet they made to my request was amazing. Can I say wow again?

We toured some of the cathedrals in Sophia, and strolled through the open air market where I purchased a couple of treasures for family at home. I took advantage of the photographic moments and captured several really good shots. The language barrier is not so bad. Do I understand what is being said? No … but it seems that they know I am “English” and many can rapidly spit out a few words in English. I have also found that just a few words in French/Italian that I know are very helpful. My junior hosts speak the language very well and are determined to teach me a few words like: thank-you, your welcome, where’s the bathroom, and how much is this? I keep being told… “Very good Miss Julie” so I guess I will pass the language exam by the end of my stay.

On our way out of Sophia we stopped at the airport and just as we arrived my bag did as well. Isn’t God good? Squeals of delight from the junior hosts as they knew my bag was filled with goodies they would get to share. The roads fro the most part are similar to those we have in the US rural communities… however the bumps in the roads are much worse.

We have a full agenda today. I don’t know where all we are planning to go. I told my hosts: “you all know where the best places are to capture photos…. Take me where you want.” So who knows what the day will hold.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Packing for Adventure in Bulgaria

Greetings and salutations....
I love Charlotte's Web...

This is my first post about my Trip to Bulgaria.

WOW... Still can't fathom the realization on how fast this entire trip has come about. Yet Wednesday afternoon I will board a plane and begin the first leg of my journey to this country that is nestled between Turkey, The Black Sea, Greece and Romania.

God has provided the opportunity , the ways and means to allow me to go and a gracious host family that is willing to board me. Bulgaria is not the normal tourist destination. I guess it's a good thing I am not going as a "tourist".

I have had school all week with several major projects due. It has been really tough to complete everything... in fact I hate to say it but I am not quite finished yet. I have two more papers to write and I am unsure that I will get to them before it is time to leave the house.

To think that someone would actually have a need for my talents and for us to connect... Can we say "it's a God thing?" I think so.

Let me explain... It started by my commenting on a picture. I loved the setting and said I wish I was there. Before the day was out I was asked to think about coming that my talent for taking pictures and shooting video could be used.

Now please understand I am a Senior at RSU and I am taking 5 classes this semester. Three at RSU and 2 at TCC. (ask me to explain later... it is a long story) I would have to miss 3 possibly 4 classes and I like to consider myself a good student and I don't like getting dinged on my grades.

So I said...
If and only if I can get all five of my professors to give me a green light and not have consequences on my grades would be the first hurdle. That was completed within 36 hours.

See someone's hand at work here?

Then I had to have my kids be ok with me going. Mainly Josh. Josh and I have never been away from each other for more than 4 days. Josh after thinking about it for a few days was actually excited about me going. ????

who changed his heart?

There has been so much to accomplish yet at every turn everything has been done swiftly.

Absolutely amazing.

I will be doing my level best to get posts out every other day. I hope you find it interesting. I will post pictures of the area as I get time.

Pray for me that I will be successful in my assignment.