Our time to return home has come more quickly than anticipated. Amid the scurry of last minute activities I have found myself pondering many things. Just like so many things in life, there are pros and cons to the end of this chapter.
There are a few things that we will not miss as we depart for home
Broken sidewalks – Often I commented that I wanted to see more of Bulgaria than the ground. But every time I lifted my eyes I would trip on some obstacle on the sidewalk. I am thankful for city maintenance people.
We will not miss one neighbor’s un-rhythmic drumming on his drums several evenings a week.
We also will not miss the three flights of stairs in Mission Home to be climbed several times a day. We must be getting old.
Also we will not miss days without:
· Hot water
· Or all of the above at the same time
However, among the things that we will miss are:
The corner vegetable stand! A half block from our home is a large vegetable stand. Nearly daily we go there to buy fresh fruits and veggies. (The frequency may be necessitated by our small fridge.) The staff is very friendly and kind to old folks who speak very little of the language.
Up the main street just a little way is Pro Market where we go for milk and incidentals. One of their specialties is fresh squeezed orange juice! Not only do we purchase this delicious juice, frequently young missionaries can be seen with a liter bottle to wash down their breakfast or lunch, or just as a snack.
We will miss fresh homemade bread from the woman that we fondly call the bread lady. She always has a warm smile each time we approach her window to purchase a loaf of fresh bread! Quickly she learned what we prefer, a large loaf from the middle of the batch (so that there is no crust on the sides.) She also chats away as she serves us. We have no idea what she is saying! But it sounds pleasant!
I will miss the German yogurt with 3.8% fat content. One day I commented to Elder Segeberg how much better the yogurt tasted here. His reply was that if I ate something other than fat free yogurt in America I might find more taste as well! Here I felt less guilty eating the full fat since there is no alternative.
Most important our list of things that we will miss are the dedicated missionaries who gladly sacrifice 18-24 months of their youth to serve the Lord. Their enthusiasm, to find and teach those who are kept from the love of their Savior only because they know not where to find it, is contagious. We have grown to love each and every one of them. We will continue to pray for their well-being and success.
Next would be our wonderful Mission President and his charming wife, President and Sister Wilstead and the other senior missionaries with whom we have served. You meet some great people on a mission! We appreciate every one that we have met.
Also we will miss the courageous and faithful members. Life in Eastern Europe is not easy. It is difficult to turn from old customs and traditions to embrace something totally different. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to all of us, no matter our situation or our location.
Last but not least, we will miss is the joy on the faces of newly baptized members. You can truly see the light of Christ in their countenance. They bring enthusiasm and joy to the branches as they feel the difference that Christ has made in their lives.
And of course there are many things that we look forward to such as:
· Peanut Butter
· Powdered sugar that is not gritty
· Costco (may need to take out a loan the first time we go there)
· A car (can’t decide which one)
· Brown Sugar (I want a 25 pound bag)
· Hot water whenever we want it
· Heat when we are cold
But most important are our loved ones! We will not be able to get enough of them! During our time so far away we have appreciated their love and support. We have treasured the opportunities to see their faces as we Skype. What a great innovation!
So, as we say good bye to our many new friends we will concentrate on the many joys that we will soon enjoy! One chapter is closing, but a new one is about to open!
Elder and Sister Segeberg