Mormon Mission World

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Farewell to a Dear Friend

Dear friends and family,
            Although we had another idea for our blog this week, the unexpected passing of a dear friend in our mission has overshadowed our previous plan.  Just this Sunday a small part of a speaker’s message was on being prepared.  She mentioned a recent funeral that she attended and how passing to from this life was compared to a “Come As You Are Party.”  When the time comes we all go as we are, ready or not.  At the time, although she said nothing that I had not heard before, I found myself profoundly moved by her message.  I reflected on my preparations and the lack of urgency that we are lulled into as we go from day to day; always expecting another tomorrow.  With the sudden passing of our energetic and vibrant friend I was reminded how little guarantee we have of any tomorrows.

 In recent months we have spent time with Elder & Sister S. getting to know and love them.  Together we went to Plovdiv to see the Roman ruins, we visited Mt Vitosha and rode a chair lift to the top for spectacular views of the city.  Recently they introduced us to a local restaurant which serves American style burgers, fries, shakes and onion rings.  We, in turn, took them to The Architect Restaurant for the best steak they had enjoyed in a year. Many more plans were in the works to explore the city and country during the remaining time we were to be in Bulgaria.
Our dear friends received joyful news several weeks ago that their son and his wife were to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity and desperately wanted them to attend.  After checking with the mission president they made arrangements to return to the States for the event, arriving just in time for Thanksgiving. How excited they were!
Even when we receive our invitation to this “Come As You Are Party” we are blessed with many of the Lord’s tender mercies.  Our dear friend passed peacefully in his sleep after a wonderful visit with family and friends as well as witnessing the sealing of his son and wife.  What a tender mercy! To be close to family is a comfort for the stunned and grieving widow, rather than in a distant land.  A son who is working in Bulgaria can handle the details on this end for his mom. These are just a few of the tender mercies.
 There is no good time to lose the companionship of a loved one; but what better time to go than when you are anxiously engaged in serving the Lord to strengthen his children?  We know that he has been ‘transferred’ to serve another mission on the other side.  Although he was not ready to leave this life, he was prepared to go on to the ‘Party’ ahead of us. Through our Savior and the atonement that He provided we have hope for a happy reunion and a bright eternity.  We will miss our beloved friend, but look forward to seeing him again someday!

Elder and Sister Segeberg

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday Adventures

      Saturday, as we walked into town, we happened on an event near St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the city.  The streets were lined with tour buses which were filled to capacity.  I doubt that I have ever seen so many buses in my life. As we attempted to skirt the crowd that was forming around the cathedral, we saw flags of various designs and colors.  Each and every person was carrying at least one flag; many had extras to share with others. Among the throng were people of all ages including many families with children.  There was music being played on a stage that had been set up as the focal point.

We passed quickly stopping only briefly to make a small purchase from one of the many Babas (grandmas) that frequently set up tables with their hand crafts along the street and in the park nearby. Although the police presence was evident, we felt it was better not to linger.

After a morning of shopping and touring the city, we headed for home.  I suppose that we could have taken a less direct route back home that would have avoided this area, but I had not found everything I was looking for and wanted to check the vendors in the park one last time.  Those in the park selling their wares must have been thrilled with the abundance of people milling about and making purchases.  We, too, found some things that we liked.  One of the vendors explained that it was a political rally of some sort.  He said that he did not have the English to explain it completely.  Next summer their elections will be held.  Apparently we missed most of the hullabaloo of our own elections but will not miss theirs.
After making our purchases we once again needed to negotiate the crowd to get back home.  As we approached the band began to play a something that sounded very much like a national anthem.  Those in the crowd began to wave their flags gently back and forth to the music.  Even though we could not understand the words of the song, it was obvious the strong feelings this tune invoked.  As we listened we also could feel stirrings in our hearts of love of country.  Next they moved to a song that sounded very much like I Love Bulgaria or something very similar.   

 This also gave us reflections of My Country Tis of Thee or God Bless America.  To be in a foreign country and see the love that they have for their land and their pride in their heritage was very moving.  Not unlike anywhere else in the world there are problems in the country that people complain about bitterly.  However, when it comes right down to it, they love their country.   

This did not make us feel homesick as I thought it might.  It did make me feel a greater love for the people and the country of Bulgaria.  Once again we are reminded that ‘folks is folks’ no matter where they are in the world or how different they may seem at first glance.

Everyone wants a safe & warm place to live, enough to eat, and love & hope.  We are grateful to be here to be able to offer the love and hope.  There is no more hope than to know that our Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ, love us and have a plan for us.  They want us to be happy as well and have provided a way that we can return to them someday.   

Once again we feel so blessed; not because we are Americans but because we are Christians and are willing to stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places! 

Elder and Sister Segeberg

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Trip to Lovech

This week, on a beautiful crisp fall day, we traveled to Lovech, which is one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. The city’s first inhabitants are thought to have been a Thracian tribe. The city has been occupied by one group or another since the 4th-3rd centuries BC.  Lovech has been part of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

 One of the two main attractions in Lovech is the Lovech Castle, or Hisarja Fortress, which is a former Roman citadel that overlooks the city. We climbed a long stairway up the side of the hill to reach the Fortress at the top. 

 The view of the city and the surrounding area was spectacular.  It was apparent why this hill and fortress were a coveted defense location.  At the top is a statue of Vasil Levski who was a Bulgarian revolutionary, well-known as a national hero of Bulgaria
  Nicknamed the Apostle of Freedom, Levski led a revolutionary movement to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. His statue towers over the city at 42 feet high.


The other main attraction is the Covered Bridge that connects the old and new part of the city across the Osam River. The original bridge made possible the settlement of the plain across the river from hills of the old town.  It was destroyed by flood in 1872 and was rebuilt by the citizens. Once again it was destroyed in 1925; this time by fire. The citizens all contributed to the rebuilding of the bridge once again.  Today the Covered Bridge houses shops, cafes and restaurants and is a source of pride for the local population as well as a large contributor to the economy.  We did our part to contribute to that economy as we strolled from one end to the other.

 While we are in Bulgaria we love these opportunities to explore the beautiful countryside.  The weather was perfect and the scenery remarkable.  We would hate to leave the country having never had the chance to appreciate the rich culture that of the area. 

Love Elder & Sister Segeberg

Monday, November 5, 2012

Milkshakes and Burgers

Last week we made an amazing discovery! We found a restaurant that serves American style burgers, milkshakes, fries and onion rings!  It is called ‘Boom.’   Since we have been here we have not found beef to have the same flavor that we are used to, but they use Irish Angus and it is delish!  I am afraid that we will be spending way too much time there!  It’ s a good thing that it is about a twenty minute walk from our home so that we can get some exercise on the way there and back.

Photo: Have you seen our website? Here you can find out all the information you need about Boom :) www.boomburgers.bgPhoto: Are you dreaming about our special lunch menu?

Photo: Experimenting with a half-moon burger... Who has an appetite for this?Now this is a thick burger!!

We also discovered a new ‘glauv’, which is a pedestrian shopping area that many of the cities in Bulgaria have.  Sofia has a lot of things, but a glauv has not been one of them until now.  Saturday was a beautiful fall day so after a lunching on a cheeseburger and onion rings we strolled along with the other pedestrians and window shopped.  The day was so fantastic that it was great to just be outside.

 Saturday evening the missionaries put on a Halloween Party for the people that they are teaching, children, and anyone else who wanted to attend.  There was plenty of food, contests in doughnut eating and bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving and cookie decorating.  All that attended appeared to have a great time.  Halloween is not a local holiday but they enjoy the festivities anyway!

We are grateful for another enjoyable week in Sofia!  Wish you were here!

Love Elder and Sister Segeberg