For video and picture links, please, scroll to the bottom of the letter
The newly formed band of teenage music students in the Youth Club had just finished practice. Two stayed behind and started a conversation about God and “religion” with the staff. One of the teens, Laura, 15, defended her school textbook view on faith. God was “something invented in the old days” to help people explain their inability to deal with life and the elements.
She insisted that astrological signs determine one’s personality. We engaged in answering her, and the other teen’s, questions. At one point one of the Christians said: “It seems like you are missing something in your life.” Laura answered: “Not that I am missing something but it feels like someone is missing me…” And she began to cry. A female staff member gave her a hug. We all know who that Someone is who “misses” the fifteen year-old aspiring grunge singer.
This is exactly the type of work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of these young people we were hoping and praying for.
After three months in the USA we are now once again on Bulgarian soil. For all of you who were praying for our safe and uneventful return home – thank you! We had an easy wait at both airports, no problems with our luggage, and best of all, no sickness to deal with as we flew.
Psalm 66:19: “But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
The Summer – going, going, gone!
Our summer was filled with travel. We were able to take two long drives to visit family, friends and donors. Our first road trip took us through the Mojave Desert, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. I can honestly say that we enjoyed every moment of our drive – and though it was ever so hot, there was always a pool to jump into at the end of each day at Motel 6.
Road trip #2 had us driving from Pasadena to Northern California and then onto Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming. We were amazed at the beauty of each state and the changes in scenery along the way. The boys had never been to most of these states so it was fun watching them as they took in the views for the first time.
Wyoming was probably our favorite place – we actually got to go on two hikes in the Grand Teton National Park. Vik continues to brag that he hiked in the Tetons in his “Crocs” and had no trouble at all! We all figure he should be the national poster boy for Crocs in the US.
Kudos to Dr. Kostov
Vik walked in his graduation from Fuller Theological Seminary in June. The entire family was so proud of him and we are all thankful that a new season awaits him. He has begun making inquiries to several seminaries in Europe and the USA and we hope that doors will open for him to both teach and publish. Ambitious as ever, he wants to be able to teach at least three intensives in the next academic school year.
A Special Thanks
We want to thank all of you who housed us this summer – we felt like we owned homes all across the various states! We so enjoyed your hospitality and our conversations together. So thank you again friends. I believe best of all was the ability to go deeper in friendship and relationship with some of you – it made all the miles driven worth it for us!
The Youth Club
Thanks to a special gift by one of our donors we were able to buy a stove and fridge for the youth club as soon as we got back. This Friday they will be delivered and we will send out photos in our next letter for all of you to see how the kitchen is shaping up. Having appliances in the youth club’s kitchen means that staff can make lunches and dinners for themselves and projects when necessary; and when we have out-of-town guests, rather than eating out for every meal, we will be able to make home-cooked meals for them.
We would ask you to please pray for God to help us meet two more needs concerning the club:
1) $2000 to be raised for the purchase of a heating system for the youth club. Winter is just around the corner and we need to get heating installed before the temperatures dip too low in order to continue our work with youth.
2) $600 for insulation in the club’s kitchen and office area. We’ve had some damage to the walls this summer and while all the exterior walls of the house will eventually need to be insulated, these two areas of the club need immediate attention.
While we were away in the US working on support-raising, our volunteers were hard at work continuing both a weekly writer’s discussion club and guitar lessons. Roughly 70 youth were visiting the club attending the discussions, taking lessons, and just showing up for jam sessions. Because of the increase in interest we are planning on organizing some concerts for family and friends of the young musicians as well as neighbors of the club during the holiday season.
On the English language front, Teresa and Karina (an 18 year old from Wales who will be spending her gap year volunteering in the club and being a part of our community) will be organizing three groups: a conversation club (for those who have at least a second-year grasp of the language and are able to converse on specific topics), a puppet show club (for younger language learners which will use puppets to retell children’s stories), and a drop-in homework assistance program (for English language learners of course!).
Religious Liberty Case – Part 2 *
We lost the case at the first level I believe due to it begin such high profile confrontation with the status quo. An alleged source from the government has informed our party that the president himself has put pressure on the deciding panel to vote against us in the decision. Viktor filed the appeal during the summer and the case will reviewed by the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court in November. There is a political change in the government in Bulgaria after elections in the summer. The socialists are not in charge any longer and so far there seems to be a will by the new government to fight the corruption plaguing the country. It is still unclear how the change in political power will affect the religious freedom climate.
Viktor will be leading up a weekly men’s prayer meeting on Saturday mornings for the men of the church, while Teresa will be leading (surprise-surprise!) a women’s prayer meeting before the Sunday morning service. As you all know, little can be accomplished without much prayer and since there is so much to do here prayer ministry is essential.
We are also trying to organize two youth retreats this semester, one for the boys and one for the girls. Finances are always tight, so please pray that we come up with unique ways to raise the funds necessary so that all who want to go are able to attend.
Last but not least, if you remember last May we asked for prayer for a car while in the US. Well, four days after we emailed the request, and after we asked the church here to pray, someone offered us to use a vehicle for the summer. So we had a dependable car upon arrival in the US! That was a testimony of God’s ability to answer prayer and a great encouragement to us. Due to generous sharing by other friends as well, we were not without a vehicle till the last day of our stay.
Thank you for your partnership in prayer and support.
Serving Christ together,
Viktor , Teresa and the boys
These are recordings of songs based on Christian lyrics and sang by some of the Youth Club music students:
Time and Eternity
My Heart Broke (music by Laura)
Pictures from our summer in the US