Happy New Year 2013! As this new year begins we are thinking back on all the surprises and changes of the year just past. Last New Year’s Eve, after a pleasant dinner with the Boswells and the other senior couples, we listened to the sounds of fireworks, think Beirut. As we lay sleepless in our bed we looked forward to a new year of serving our mission in the Baltics, living in Riga, Latvia. We were happy with our apartment, had learned how to navigate the public transportation system, and knew where to shop, what products were available and how to substitute for others that were not. We loved the new friends that we had made and looked forward to more experiences to share with them. How blessed we felt!
Within three weeks we were asked to move to Bulgaria and were preparing for that move. Since the process of obtaining a visa for Bulgaria from Latvia was uncharted territory there was uncertainty about how long it would take. Would it be days or months? I found myself hesitant to buy green bananas.
Finally we were on our way to our new assignment. The Roth’s picked us up at the airport, took us to an office staff meeting, settled us into our new apartment and bid us farewell since they were leaving in the morning for several days. Suddenly we found ourselves in a strange land with no knowledge of the language or how to get around. We mused on how the young missionaries are given a senior companion when they arrive who knows the language as well as how to get around. We set out to explore on Saturday and found that we were not far from the Center; we discovered where the food stores were hidden and purchased the things that we needed to prepare for the new week.
Our visa process took us twice to Warsaw and once back to Riga (after our temporary visa expired in Bulgaria). We never thought of Warsaw as a place that we wanted to visit but were pleasantly surprised after our visits with what the city has to offer. You can’t help but admire the fortitude the people had to rebuild after the devastation of the war. It is a beautiful city and we are glad that we were given the opportunity to visit.
After returning to Bulgaria, we could finally settle in. Our first order of business was to work the Office Elders out of a job. They were not called to office work and are needed to be about their Father’s business. This we accomplished before July was over. Periodically there are instances that could use some Bulgarian speaking, but we muddle along. We have made friends at the post office and customs office as we frequently pick up packages for the missionaries. I have even made peace with the local courier service and managed to order toner on-line in Bulgarian. Elder Segeberg has successfully eliminated cash from missionary apartments and implemented the proper reimbursements and funding through their missionary debit cards.
In 2012 we were reminded how fragile life is as we unexpectedly suffered the loss of a fellow missionary and dear a friend. We celebrated with loved ones, though far away, as they experienced milestones in their lives – births, birthdays, baptisms, ordinations, moves, new homes, graduation, and a wedding. We missed being there for these events, but our hearts were never far away.
After our experiences last year we realize more fully how surprising the future can be. We are looking forward to all that 2013 has to offer. In August we will be leaving Bulgaria with mixed emotions.’ There will be things we are sad to leave behind and many things to which we look forward to returning.
In 2013 we anticipate:
· Reorganizing the Mission Office to make the transition to a new Office Couple smoother
· Complete a family history project that we have been working on
· Visit with our family - lots
· Continue to serve in some capacity
· Squeeze the new babies
There will of course be things we didn't anticipate. We pray for the grace to accept them, and move on to wherever we are led. However this new year turns out, we hope to serenely accept whatever the Lord has in store for us.
In a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland he stated:
"'If ye love me, keep my commandments,' Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord."
There is much still to do. May 2013 be joyful as we heed this advice and follow our Savior. Love, Elder & Sister Segeberg