*** Why I’m writing this: I’m writing this short little series to give you a window into the awesome blessing of a life of service. When people think of a “missionary” sometimes they think of people serving diligently, under harsh conditions, dutifully suffering for their Master. And that is true…sometimes life is like that. But other times we are privileged to experience the unimaginable richness of life that comes from a life of stumbling obedience. That is what I want to share with you in this little vacation chronicle. I want you not to think of missionary life as foot-dragging resignation of life lived in difficulty, nor as a life of leisure in exotic locals, but rather of a life of beauty and ugliness, pain and pleasure, awesome contrasts which make missionary life a dance.***
After a long day on the road we arrived in Nessabar, Bulgaria. This isn’t a very big country, but the roads make you feel like it is! Actually, it’s beautiful drive through the agricultural heartland of the nation.
Since we took so much time in Plovdiv we didn’t actually arrive in Nessabar until about 9PM local time. That’s pretty early if you don’t have little kids with you, but with four children under seven-years-old, it was plenty late to begin looking for a hotel. Nessabar, and especially the Sunny Beach area on the Black Sea, has incredibly active tourist areas where hotels are breeding like rabbits. At the same time, its extraordinarily affordable. Since we hadn’t made a reservation and just thought we’d “wing it” we stopped at a couple of 5–star hotels right on the beach. We needed to get a base-line on prices and thought we’d start at the top. At one brand new hotel, with marble floors, brass fixtures we found a price of a little over 200 leva per night. That’s about $120 which included breakfast and dinner at a hotel with multiple swimming pools, exercise equipment and sits right on the beach. Talk about affordable! But this was still quite a bit more than we wanted to pay.
So we looked around for a couple of more hours. The kids were tired but hung in there. My oldest prayed diligently that we’d find something SOON! In the end ended up at hotel about a block off the beach. We found a two-room apartment, which over looks the swimming pools and central courtyard for $85 per night. That includes use of all their facilities and a fantastic breakfast buffet as well. The picture to the right is off our apartment balcony. Not a bad deal, eh?
Yesterday we spent most of the morning on the beach. The Black Sea. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed that I’d be sitting on the beach in Bulgaria looking out over the Black Sea. In my mind, growing up during the cold war, Bulgaria was always a darkly exotic place. When I thought of of the Black Sea I thought of the Soviet Navy patrolling the cold waters of their own back yard. I thought of pollution and poverty. I thought of things that were just “other” and foreign.
That’s not what we’ve found here. The beach here is as clean, white and beautiful as any I’ve ever sat on. Okay, the service people don’t quite get the idea of “service” but the facilities are all first-rate.
Our God is a god of blessing. I know that most of you will never sit on the beaches of the Black Sea. I know some couldn’t afford to pay what we pay; $80–85 per night is just out of your price range, even for a one a year vacation. But my point here isn’t to belabor the inequalities of life, but to praise the God who made it and to thank him for allowing us to share in it.