I (Sal) had the opportunity to interview a student in the Morris Literacy Project about his country. His name is Nikolay, who is pursuing to be a vetrenarian. Currently, he is working on getting his degree while working his internship at a local hog farm outside of Morris. I asked him what is the average size of a family back at home. He told me it's 2, which has decreased over generations due to the increasingly hard working society (Western world!). He has had the privilege to travel most of the European continent and visited some states (Washington, South Dakota, etc..) in America. I then asked him how he keeps entertained during his stay here in America. He told me he loves to watch soccer on television. The hours he s working is so long (works 13 of 14 days), so he doesn't have the chance to entertain himself.
Today (Sunday, April 9th 2006), he told me about the Global Outreach program for interested agricultural related foreign workers
I've been reflecting (Friday, June 30th of 2006)about "God's awesome timeing" with one of the ESL students I've been friends with since he ("Totov "Tony" Todorov) came to Morris the beginning of this year. Just yesterday, I drove him to the MSP Int'l Airport. We were about to leave at 7am, but he wanted to leave a little earlier (6:30a) to get some time to choose and pick some chocolates for his girlfriend back home. As we were driving to the "cities", our attention got caught with the traffic jam in the otherside of the highway (after entering and exiting the Monticello stop). We saw a 8 wheeler pick-up truck blocking the "concrete tight narrow barrier" 2-lane highway going west on I-94. There were every kind of emergency vehicle stopped to assist the accident. They had cars backed up to about a mile and were redirected to the nearby exit (Monticello) to ease the congestion. Tony and I looked with "awe" and I told Tony that "are you glad we left early in case of traffic?". I started praying in my spirit for the trucker and anyone involved that may of been hurt. I try to remember to do this everytime I hear the sirens of emergency vehicles or see an accident. We did get to the cities in-time (around 9:30a), so we went to Walmart in Bloomington (between Chicago & Portland along American Boulevard & Highway south 694) to get many types of "American" chocolates. After our quick shopping errand, Tony ask me to go with him inside to the airport as he gets his ticket. After getting his e-ticket processed, the Delta Airlines Ticket Checkout lady told Tony to "hurry" as his flight departure time (to Cincinatti and then to Paris before reaching home) has changed from 12:30p to 11:20a! Tony and I look at each other with our eyes wide open, but it got calmed and smaller when the lady told us that he has time (it was around 10:48am)! Wow, what a relief-God's timing! I told Tony that are you glad that we left early? I walked with him to the Gate (farthest to the right/south of the terminal because it has less traffic) to make sure he made it through security without any problems. Praise God!
As I reflect on this awesome story of "God's timing" the morning after, I'm reminded of another earlier this year with Tony. This story happened on a "rare" Sunday during my local church (Morris Community Church) service. I've been inviting Tony many times to meet more nice sincere people in our community during a Sunday church service. He was able to attend only one Sunday to take a break from his busy work (6a-3/6p seven days a week) schedule. This particular Sunday, a sister-in-Christ (Shaylyn R.) was home from her recent trip to Eastern Europe (Italy and Bulgaria) with YWAM (see link down below). She shared at her church of what she did with YWAM using beautiful pictures and a colorful presentation on the big screen on stage of the Morris Area High School Auditorium. Tony was caught with suprise and excitement of seeing pictures from "home". He was anxious to talk with Shaylyn after the service. After the service, I brought Tony down the aisle to meet with Shaylyn. I said out loud, "this is God's awesome timing" as I introduce Tony to Shaylyn. After this service, I would share about this with many other friends/family in church. This was very encouraging to Tony as he smiled after being out of his home country this long. I thought this was a very "God divine time" because this would be the only Sunday Tony was able to come to church since coming here since the beginning of this year. He would later come to another church service, but it would be a Tuesday (this past week!) for our special summer schedule. It was another "perfect God time" as he came to hear Justin G. (one of the Morris Literacy Project volunteer tutors) share his heart on "Sacrfices to God" as part of the Summer Institute of Ministry Training School student presentation.
"Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing Tony to Morris. I praise and give you the glory for all these amazing "God timing" stories. I know you sent Tony (Totov means "God's gift") here for a reason, and I continue to pray for your hand to work in his life day to day. I especially pray that the seeds of faith that has been planted (e.g. almost every week we visited Neil's bana/sauna, was given a Bible in Russian by our family in Christ during the weekly Friday homegroups in Hsu's house) in him these past 6 months will get watered during his 3-week vacation at home and after. Continue to send other brothers and sisters in Christ in his day to day life to encourage him and grow him to a personal relationship with You"...in Jesus name-Amen!"
*friend at Zeland Ave in New Hope, MN (corner on 36th & Boone Ave (south of 42nd/hwy 9 and eastof Hwy 169)
On Wednesday, October 25th 2006-Tony "Totov" was able to go use Neil & Ruth's "bana" (see Russian) for the second week in a row since last Spring of this year.
Tony "chillin" at Neil & Ruth's living room before going into the "bana".
Church Men's Retreat at Inspiration Point-Clitheral, Minnesota
Tony posing in single digit (Farenheit) temperatures outside at Inspiration Point Camp in Cliteral, Minnesota (Saturday, December 2nd of 2006)
Tony was able to come to the Annual Outfitters for Adventure Men's Retreat at Inspirational Point this past weekend (Friday-Saturday). He finished his last day at the pig farm as a vetrenarian in Clinton, Minnesota for Ron Kill and Bruce Zierke (Zierke Company) this past Sunday. He was able to "go around" to do these type of leisure activities for the first time since July when he went back to Bulgaria for vacation. His schedule is pretty tight-works 7 days a week! Tony and his wife (Margarita) will be going back together to their homeland January 7th.
Tour of the Twin Cities from December 8th-December 11th of 2006
Tony's wife arrived Friday afternoon, which we decided to just relax the rest of the day-evening at my Mom's Place because of "jet leg".
The next day we checked out various "hot spots" of the Twin Cities. First, we went around the Mall of America. We then went back to my mom's house to take an hour break before heading to downtown Minneapolis for the popular "Holidazzle Parade".
The following day (Sunday, December 10th of 2006), we went to my homechurch in St. Paul-Woodland Hills in Maplewood, Minnesota. Fortunately, they had worship lyrics, so this made it a little easier for them to follow. Margarita was very interested in visiting the St. Paul Cathedral after passing it several times this past weekend. We went straight to the 10 o'clock mass while in session, which I took some pictures (see St. Paul). From here, we went back to my mom's home and packed our stuff before heading back to Morris (went to Albertville Premium Outlets along the way).
Hometown of Stara Zagora
Since I've met Tony, he's been mentioning proudly of his hometown Stara Zagora. I decided to look up this city on the web...
Wikipedia, which includes direct links about this fascinating city!
Today (Monday, January 15th of 2007), I just got an e-mail from a missionary contact that knows a church in this city-cool, huh! What an awesome connection of God's family around the world-praise the Lord! The missionary (Andersons from Laurie P.-contact through a local church I off and on attend in St. Paul, Minnesota-Woodland Hills Church)....
Church Awakening-Church of God (english)
Morris and Out of State Hangouts!
Throughout the first week (Dec 10th-16th), Tony and Margarita went all over town. We went to the RFC to workout, bana at Neil's, Eagle's bar with friends from his old workplace, and Hsing-Wen & Chen's House (Friday get-together!) last night (Friday, December 15th of 2006). Friends from church (Pat & Neil) took them to Fargo, North Dakota to visit a "new" place outside of the state this past Thursday. They weren't pleased with the shopping over there, which they thought it was too expensive!
The second weekend in Minnesota, my friend Tim drove both of them and I to Alexandria to check out some interesting attractions. Plus, to go shopping too since there were better deals then across the border! On Saturday, December 23rd-we went to a "get-together" at the Zierke farm site, which is 15-minutes south of Chokio. We partied from 4p-1am!
During the third week (Dec 25th-29th), we went to stay at my mom's place in St. Paul. We had lots of plans for the "big cities", but we weren't able to accomplish all. However, we did do a lot...On Monday, we were invited to my younger brother's (Ceo & Khua's) house for a special Christmas gathering with relatives of both sides. On Tuesday, we checked out the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul. On Wednesday, December 27th-we went on beautiful 2-3 hour road-trip (one way) to Duluth while listening to my "old-school" cassatte tape player (Tongues of Fire, from rhyythm house). On Thursday, we went to the Mall of America for the second time this month to do more "window shopping" and actually played some games at the Park in the Mall (formerly known as Camp Snoopy). That same day, we visited a good former Morris friend of mine-Mark Haugen, who shared a cool video of his recent mission trip (e.g. Freak Fest) to the Czech Republic. Then Mark took us around his neighborhood (South Minneapolis's 50th & France) and across the border to Edina's Galleria Shopping Center. Before the day ended, we went to visit an aquaintance of my younger brother, who is the President of the Slavic Center. Our last day, Tony&Margarita slept in and just headed out back to Morris later Friday morning. It was cool time with my mom and sister (e.g. watched "The Passion", "Anne Frank" (Jewish holocaust, and "The Muskateers")too, who were both blessed to have Tony & Margarita come visit for almost a week!
Tony and Margarita having a snow fight in front of my house after arriving from the Twin Cities on Friday, December 29th afternoon (2pm).
The last week at Morris was pretty layed back. On Saturday, December 30th-we went to play pool and go bowling at Crystal Lanes Entertainment Center. The following day was New Year's Eve, which we partied at Tony's old work site and then watched the "ball drop" at his friends' apartment. Since I had to work Monday thru Friday, they just chilled at home and would go out to do a variety of stuff (e.g. play table tennis with Justin/Ruth, go out to hangout with other friends at night, RFC to play racket ball, etc..).
The last weekend (Jan. 6th-7th of 07'), we just checked out the Como Zoo & Conservatory and A.J's Billiard in St. Paul. It was probably the coldest weekend for Margarita! Margarita's plane actually left Sunday evening, which Tony and I dropped her of at the MSP Int'l Airport. Then I took Tony (plane left early Monday afternoon the next day) over at his Bulgarian friend's house in Minneapolis before heading back to Morris.
The 4 weeks didn't always work out the way "we" hoped for. For example, we tried to order this camera lens for Margarita's supervisor from work, but it didn't arrive in-time before she or Tony went back home (see story)
Arts & Crafts
Above are pictures from the first of the series of Bulgaria meals with friends. On Monday, December 18th-we invited Ruth & Justin (met Tony for the first time during ESL Classes the beginning of the year and would compete in playing Table Tennis frequently) over for a special meal (Bulgarian ? and Filipino "Chicken" Adobo) at my house.
The second of the series, we invited Neil & Ruth (associate pastor and wife from my local church-Morris Community Church). We wanted to show them our appreciation for inviting us to use their "bana" throughout the year.
Above are pictures of Tony cooking a special Bulgarian soup and the famous "Mousaka".
Tony proudly serves the food he and his wife worked hard to cook to our guest. Then he shares a special gift from his country-small cute rose perfume wooden bottle (shared with Justin in the picture above the other day). After searching the internet, I found this site that is almost similar=> Attar of Roses
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