Training, here we come...

Vrachanski Balkan
We just found out that our 11-week training will be in a town, in the northern foothills of the majestic Vrachanski Balkan mountains.  Exciting much?!
In this area, is the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, apparently a very attractive destination for all nature lovers.  It contains Bulgaria's highest waterfall, Skaklya (463 ft.).  Sounds like we might become even more serious nature lovers...

Also, in this region, is the Ledenika Cave.  Its biggest "hall" is the Concert Hall.  Supposedly, there is a Crocodile, a Giant’s head, a Falcon, a Santa Claus, and a Witch’s house, all created by erosion.  There's also the White Hall, in which you can see the Mother-in-law’s Tongue, the Giant’s Wife, the Elephant, and the Bathing Lass.  And, the highest point of the cave is called the Seventh Sky, accessible only to the most enthusiastic tourists.  Hoping to be two of those!

All of this and more will be close by!  At least, for the first few months...

Isn't this country lush with places to discover?


A Bulgarian Valentine

What would a Bulgarian Valentine's Day look like?  It would probably include two very lovely things...

bulgarian wineFirst of all, February 14th is, conveniently, St. Trifon's Day, the pruner.  Every year, on this day, Bulgarians drink wine to commemorate this Saint.  Sweet.  Being the world's second-largest exporter of bottled wine, I can only imagine the variety of wines to choose from there.  Can't wait to partake of that next year...

One_bulgarian_roseThen, relating a little bit to what characterizes St. Valentine's Day in the US, Bulgaria is also one of the biggest producers of rose oil in the world (85% of the world's rose oil).  The Kazanluk rose ("Kazanlashka roza"), from which this oil is extracted, is a special type of rose that was cultivated after many years of production and development.

Also known as the “liquid gold of Bulgaria," it is a very expensive product, used mainly for the making of perfumes, chocolates, liqueur and jam, all of which sound lovely.  Rose oil is even 3 times more expensive than real gold.  Crazy.

It doesn't matter what your "relationship status" is, people... who wouldn't love to spend Valentine's Day in Bulgaria, enjoying their wine & the fragrance of rose oil?  We're in.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Joy & Randall


Joy: Top 10 Reasons to do something like this...

It's getting closer and closer to our leave date (7 weeks from today), and I'm sitting here, thinking of how excited I am & of all the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead of us, being Peace Corps Volunteers.  And, I thought it'd be fun to write down my top 10 reasons for doing something like this!  So, here they are, in no particular order:

  1. You get to travel.  Enough said.
  2. You get to step outside of the rat race.  Very exciting :)
  3. You get to experience & appreciate another culture.  You also learn to appreciate your own culture more than you would otherwise, having a comparison.
  4. You get to simplify your life... minimalize, if you will.  I know I have way too much stuff that I don't use.
  5. You get to learn another language.  That may not sound so fun, if you're not into that sort of thing, but it reaps great benefits & is quite fun!
  6. You get to make friends outside of your normal demographic! :)
  7. Since living in another culture can make you feel a little discombobulated and powerless, at times, your dependence on God really increases.  This is definitely an indirect result, but such a true one.
  8. You stop taking for granted many of the benefits of living in the US.
  9. Your sense of adventure is peaked... you'll never be the same!
  10. "You're far happier giving than getting" (Acts 20:35).
I'm sure there are more really good reasons, but these are at the forefront of my mind today.  There are also many more ways to serve than internationally or, especially, with the Peace Corps.

Why would you do something like this?  Have you done something like this?  What was it?  What would your top 10 be?


Favorite Fotos of Bulgaria

Here's some photo goodness for your Friday afternoon!

Comment & let us know which is your favorite...

1. Nesebâr

Bulgaria, 2005
2. Bulgarian Man, 2005

Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo
3. Veliko Tarnovo

4. Plovdiv Region

Bulgaria, Koprivshtica
5. Kaprivshtica

Sunflowers in Bulgaria
6. Sunflowers

Спиркознак Кюстендил 2007 г. Bus stop Sign Kyustendil Bulgaria
7. A 1980's-style Bus Stop

8. Bulgarian Beach

9. Plovdiv (2nd largest city in Bulgaria)

10. Southern Bulgaria

Bachkovo Monastery, Bulgaria
11. Bachkovo Monastery

Stara planina (Bulgaria)
12. Milanovo

Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
13. Blagoevgrad

Bulgaria 2010
14. Golden Sands Beach

Bulgaria 2010
15. Golden Sands Beach

Bulgaria 2010
16. Golden Sands Beach - Pentecost Holiday

Bulgaria 9
17. Bulgarian Winter

Pamporovo, Bulgaria
18. Pamporovo

Bulgaria - National Opera House
19. National Opera House

Tryavna Bulgaria 16
20. Tryavna

21. Blue Bulgarian Truck

Rila Monastery Bulgaria
22. Rila Monastery

Tombul Mosque - Shumen, Bulgaria
23. Tombul Mosque

Stara planina (Bulgaria)
24. Stara Planina

Sofia, Bulgaria
25. Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria
26. Sofia



Welcome to the Mason's Bulgaria Blog Launch!  We're so glad you're joining us on this journey.  It's been a bumpy one so far, and we're not even there yet!

We've gone from leaving for an African country in November 2010 to leaving for Bulgaria in March 2011.  From a place where cell phone coverage is spotty to a European Union country.  From thinking we were leaving before Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years to leaving after one of Boston's snowiest winters!  This whole process has kept us on our toes, that's for sure.

Nonetheless, we are stoked to go to an area of the world where our hearts are: Eastern Europe.

Here's a quick tour of our Blog:

This Blog? - the purpose in creating it... if you're curious.

Our Digits - keeping in touch via more than just this blog.

Guest book - if you ever want to leave an encouraging message for us or just want to say hello, leave a message here!

Fotos - a photo album... more to come, as we start our journey in Bulgaria.

Peace Corps - various informative articles on what it'll be like working with the Peace Corps.

Navigation to these various pages is at the top of the blog:

If you're not sure about something, just ask.  More than anything, we covet your prayers and encouragement while we're on this journey.  We're hoping this blog facilitates that better than we could otherwise.

Welcome to the journey, folks!

Joy & Randall