"You can do no great things, only small things with great love"
-Mama T (Mother Theresa)
We are staying with a family who moved into their house 3 weeks before we came along. In addition they have been traveling back and forth between homes with their three children, one of which has Down’s Syndrome, attempting to finish the third story of their apartment-like building. The reason they could afford such a big place (all relative, of course) is because the rent was discounted due to the fact that the third story isn’t functional whatsoever. Rali, the wife, is going out of town in several days (ironically, to America) for a Christian conference. Bobby, the husband, helps run their church here, ministering constantly to others and providing almost continually for missionaries. The couple works day and night for Jesus. Then we arrived: nine extra people to care for and feed and assist.
Never once have they complained.
Bobby and Rali are two of the most loving, compassionate, and patient people I have ever met. They are constantly serving us at a time in their life when their schedules are so hectic, I hate to imagine what they sacrifice to meet our needs. They are honest about what they want us to do, which our whole team appreciates because it gives us opportunities to serve them as well. While we arrived, they sent their kids to stay with their grandparents so we could settle in. They come back tomorrow and they will be staying in the currently unfinished upstairs bedrooms. Despite our eagerness to jump into our “mission work” and “the reason we’re here”, our service was needed in their home the past two days. Our jobs?
1. Finish the upstairs with walls and floors, so it’s at least relatively possible for people to inhabit.
2. Clean our their garden/backyard area because it’s a mini jungle.
3. Build a doghouse out of an old chicken shed so that the neighbors don’t poison their dog because it’s acceptable in Bulgaria for that to happen if dogs are too noisy.
So yesterday, we were doing yard work, sawing wood, and laying brick walls for a dog that has too much slobber for it’s own good. Crowded around a table, debriefing, we all expressed essentially the same change of heart. At some point in our work we all made a complaint in our minds to the effect of “I raise $4000 to do this?” and then we realized that for now, for these few days, yes, we did raise $4000 to love and serve people who make a living out of loving and serving. Yes, we nine are here to build doghouses if that’s what needs to be done. We are here to do God’s work and if God’s work is pulling weeds in someone’s backyard, than pull weeds we will.
Everyone of us was humbled yesterday in our innocent missionary hearts. Prepared to move mountains in Bulgaria, we acknowledged that sometimes, to move mountains we must move the stones around it first. God is working though- in us, in the Stefanovs, and in our service. AmberLynn is an amazing cook. She’s going to make such a fantastic mom some day and the extent of her skills in domesticity seems to be endless. Chase is probably the hardest worker here and he hardly gets a moment’s rest because of it. Josh is growing every day and is willing to do any job. Whitney and Allison double as incredible gardeners and encouragers. Brian is his typical serious work self, but at the end of the day, the finished product speaks for itself. Howard is constantly versatile and contributes his strength to whatever project is available, even if it that means hauling wood for the neighbor next door. Amy and I have fun competing to see who can be the manliest woman and to be honest, we make a great team. At the end of the day, we are all happy to be here serving- even if it is in small things with great love.