Almost 20 years ago, I spent a year and a half working as a missionary in Bulgaria (Don't feel bad if you're thinking "where's Bulgaria?" When I got the letter from my church saying where I'd been assigned to go as a missionary, that was my question as well. It's in Eastern Europe - between Greece and Romania on the Black Sea.
|Typical Bulgarian cars, housing and haze of pollution in the air|
|Me with missionaries at the Alexander Nevski Cathedral in the center of Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Me and some other missionaries at one of the major communist monuments in Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Me at an orphanage - cutest kids!|
|Me with other missionaries and my dear friend Milena at her baptism|
With missionaries and Bulgarian friends celebrating Georgiov Day
|With dear Bulgarian friends in Plovdiv|
The reason all this is on my mind today is that I spent most of the afternoon with dear friends from Bulgaria. The occasion was a lecture at BYU by fine art photographer and my pseudo-adopted Bulgarian sister, Eva Koleva Timothy who flew out from Boston to do a series of lectures.
I met Eva as a 16-year-old girl in Bulgaria and was immediately drawn to her. She had this love of life and thirst for learning that was contagious - and she was always eager to help us missionaries with anything and everything. I convinced my family to sponsor Eva so that she could come to the States for college - her absolute dream. For several years, Eva lived off-and-on with my family and became like a sibling to all my siblings. She's now a wonderful wife and mother of three and has produced an amazing photography collection called "Lost in Learning" that celebrates the work of Columbus, Galileo, Newton, Da Vinci and other creative thinkers who weren't afraid to plow their own paths and pursue the dreams of their hearts. Eva did SUCH a great job and I came away all fired up about putting more joy and passion into what I do.
Check out this little snippet of Eva's work in a great YouTube video.
Here's Eva and me heading into the lecture hall (the pictures of the rest of the group ended up on my mom's camera...):
|Here's Eva and me when we first met almost 20 years ago|
So I guess what I'm really thankful for today is not so much my mission to Bulgaria itself but for the learning that it represents and the learning Eva taught me to seek out and embrace more fully through her presentation today.
P.S. I'm going to draw the winner of the Retreat giveaway in my last post tomorrow at noon or so - if you haven't entered yet, there's still a bit of time! Go to yesterday's post for details.