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