Just when I had rid myself of the habit of getting lost in Sofia, we left for a new location. For the month of July, we have relocated to Gabrovo, a small town in central Bulgaria where Peter and Ellie have a small cottage. Before we came here, friends from Sofia alerted me that people from small towns were “different … Well, you’ll see when you get there.” And when I say I have been in Sofia for two months, the people here tell me, “Oh, Sofia is not real Bulgaria.” It’s definitely a different world here. There are goats across the street, and one of my students brings me raw milk to try instead of coffee. I have also learned how to say, “I have a tick,” in Bulgarian (not due to my own experience, thankfully).

We are teaching one English class here on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. Most of our students are from Peter and Ellie’s church, but we also have a couple who aren’t Christians. I am continuing to have conversation classes with each student, which lets me learn a lot about them. Once again I am amazed at the way Bulgarians practice hospitality and embrace newcomers. It is a joy to hear about my students’ lives and learn about their struggles and successes. This time in Gabrovo has been challenging and enlightening; yet I find myself sometimes missing friends and places from Sofia. In the first few weeks that I was in Bulgaria, I don’t think I ever thought that I would miss Sofia. But when I said good-bye to my students while attending one of their company’s events, I found myself suddenly in tears (all in front of company executives, no less). I had no idea I would be so upset to leave them. For two months, though, they were the constants of my weeks as I floundered in a strange city. Now that I only have about a week left in Bulgaria, I am anticipating missing friends from Gabrovo and missing the beautiful, simple lifestyle to which I have been introduced. Usually, I have regarded the missing of missing someone as a negative emotion to struggle through. But now, this feeling is a great encouragement to me. It means that even amidst my floundering, I had real connections to real people. What a privilege it is to miss someone.

 

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