Growing up in "The Great State of Alabama" you know about different cultures, especially concerning college football. At an early age you had to choose between Auburn or Alabama an embrace one of their cultures. Each culture has its differences and each culture has its strengths and weaknesses, but they do have things in common. Differences in culture can be how we talk. I live 20 miles from Macedonia where they speak Macedonian and 20 miles from Serbia where they speak Serbian. These two languages are very similar to Bulgarian but still different in their sounds and even their Alphabets. Since working with a lot of ministries from the United Kingdom, I've learned that I really have no idea how to speak English. The best way to say this is I speak Southern Americish, not English. Lord knows with my southern drawl, I am not even close to a lot of English words. I know you are asking, what does this have to do with mission work in Bulgaria? Well, I'm glad you asked,,. We live in Eastern Europe and the culture is very different from Western Europe. Minimum wage in Bulgaria is currently 310 BGN a month ($218 a month). To put it into terms for us Southern Americish speakers, that is a little over $8 a day or $1 dollar an hour (40 hour work week). Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and several other Eastern European countries live in poverty. Their buildings and roads are in serious need of repair. Bulgaria is the size of the state of Tennessee and every country around it has a different language and very different culture. But, I have noticed a great strength in all these different cultures, they care about family and friends. They bond together to work through any problems together. They eat and live together no matter what the circumstances are surrounding them. They are not too busy in their lives to make sacrifices for each other on daily, monthly or even yearly commitments to each other. I started off this blog by saying each culture has its strengths and weaknesses but they do have things in common. Even though we all may speak different languages and live in different parts of the world. Whether we live in poverty or have riches...stop today...and think about your family and friends. Is there anything you can do to make their day a better day? Wake up tomorrow and do the same thing again and again and again or make a difference in your family and friend's lives today.
I had the honor of spending a couple of days in the mountains near Velingrad. The Roma people in the village were very gracious in their hospitality. We had several church services and appointed a deacon in the church. It reminded me of my first trip into Bulgaria (in Samokov) many years ago. Dee Dee and I stayed with a wonderful family, who spoke no English. We had no idea how to speak Bulgarian. We spent the whole night basically playing charades and struggling to communicate. The next morning I attended a men's prayer meeting at 6:00AM, to pray for the village and the church. As the men started praying , I was moved, even to the point of tears because I knew their cry to God was sincere and heart felt. That's when God started changing my heart, it was not the poverty or the conditions that the Roma people lived in that moved me, it was the sincere cry for God! On this recent trip to Velingrad, I got to experience that same cry and heart for God and it was so refreshing. Even though I had very little translation help, I was able to understand some of the conversations, I still realized their sincerity for God. Every once in a while I have to be stretched and this was most definitely a stretching. I was out of my comfort zone on all accounts and had to trust fully on the Lord. Every once in while I need to be reminded of what God has done in my life and how good He has been to me. It is great to be reminded of the heart of why we came here and how humbled we are for His calling.
Daniel Chance Galloway