International Ministries

Christmas in Bulgaria

December 19, 2002 Journal
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Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bulgaria!The weather has turned cold and there is snow on the ground.The stores are decorated for the season, and some of the larger trees outdoors are covered with strings of lights.It has been nearly one year since our arrival here in Bulgaria.It has been a year full of ups and downs.The ups of making new friends, followed by the downs of missing family and friends in the U.S. Up days when we felt we were making strides in language learning, followed by down days when we felt we had learned nothing.This Christmas season is no different.We are looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, yet are reminded that this will be our first Christmas away from family.

The past months have been busy with language study, school activities, church activities and meetings.As we have written in every letter, language study continues but always at a slower pace than we wish.

The boys are staying busy with school activities.They presented their Christmas program on December 12th and of course did a wonderful job.The school presented a musical based on Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".Both boys learned songs which they sang with their respective classes, and we heard them at home numerous times before the program!

Tom was able to meet briefly with some of the Bulgarian Baptist Union pastors who attended a meeting in Sofia on October 29th.He shared with them a little about himself and asked for their help in finding agricultural projects to start.He has also written a letter, which has been sent to those who were not at the meeting with the same information.Tom is planning to begin the selection process for projects in January and he has already heard of several churches that want to get something started.We are excited about the possibilities and where God will lead in this process!We still covet your prayers concerning the agricultural projects.

How many ways do you know to fix pumpkin?We discovered during a "Tikvina Vetcher", or in English, "Pumpkin Evening", at Sofia Baptist Church that there are MANY of ways to prepare pumpkin!Everyone brought their favorite dish made with pumpkin, and there was a contest to judge the best.The judges were generous with their prizes and everyone left a winner (including Terry!).After the judges were done everyone got to try all the delicious pumpkin foods.During the evening we also played games, learned about pumpkins, and heard poetry about pumpkins, including "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater" recited by our boys.These types of evenings were a tradition of the Christians during communism as they were a way to gather for fellowship without raising the suspicions of the police.Bulgarian pumpkins are gray-brown in color and more elongated than the typical round, orange variety in the States, but the inside meat is bright orange and very sweet and delicious.Pumpkins and squash are plentiful, and are a main staple this time of year.In downtown Sofia there are many vendors selling tasty slices of hot, baked pumpkin.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the women in Colorado and other friends and relatives who donated money to help buy warm underclothes for the children of all the Baptist Churches in Sofia.We are absolutely overwhelmed by your generosity!Terry, Didi (the pastor's wife) and Mimi (one of the Sunday school teachers) have been busy buying undershirts, underwear, socks, and leggings for the children.They will have a wonderful Christmas because of the generosity of people they have never met.We will include in our next newsletter details of all that was purchased, as well as the details of the Christmas program (when the gifts will be distributed to the children).

Through all of our ups and downs, meetings, school activities, church programs and all the "busy-ness" that fills our Christmas season, we need to take the time to count the many ways God has blessed us.Although we will not be celebrating with our families, we will be celebrating with new friends here in Bulgaria.There are those who will not be celebrating because Christmas Day is just another day to try and survive without a warm place to live or food to eat.Food dug out of the dumpster will be their Christmas meal.Then there are those who may celebrate, but have not yet heard the true "Reason for the Season."As we hurry through the Christmas season let us each be reminded that Christ tells us that we have a responsibility to minister to both.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" Matthew 25:35 NRSV

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" Matthew 28:19 NRSV

Please pray for:

Those who have no home and spend their days searching for their next meal.

Those who have not heard the story of the Baby born so long ago in Bethlehem.

Peace on earth.

"Chestito Rojdestvo Hristobo e Blagoclovena 2003 Godina!
Happy Birth of Christ and Blessed Year 2003!

Shalom,

Tom and Terry Myers
Missionaries to Bulgaria
International Ministries
American Baptist Churches US