Today was a great day. As I promised yesterday I picked up ice cream for the entire orphanage on the way to the visit this morning (8 boxes of ice-cream sandwiches) but it was $20 USD well spent to see smiles on the kids' faces after their lunch break - this is why some of them are walking up to me and saying "blogodaria" (thanks) in my videos today. Along with my ice cream I brought balloon rockets (great buy, valerie!) and I played with Jesse, Eli and the rest of the kids while we waited for the director to arrive and give us directions to the local photo lab. Once we got directions we headed down to the photo lab and took visa photos for the boys. I also took this opportunity to get a photo with the boys and we came away with the ugliest glamour-shot background in Bulgaria, complete with bright colors and pretty font. It's that bad. I swear that there's something about orphanage kids that requires them to be in the least flattering photos possible... but who knows.
We had some time to blow so I took the opportunity to resolve another problem: Jesse and Eli's shoe situation. Both of them wore girls shoes - in Jesse's case it was an oversized pair of women's slip-ons, something a nurse would wear. Upon first mention that I liked his girly shoes he proudly excaimed "They were only 6 leva!" I bet they were kid, I bet they were. Eli had a similarly girly pair of sandals that featured neon green and pink trip and were easily one or two sizes too small. We wandered over to an outdoor bazaar and walked around until we found a shop that had shoes that would satisfy their needs (Jesse needs a shoe that will accomodate his prosthetic foot that is MUCH larger than his "real" foot, and Eli's feet are two different sizes due to his CP). Once we found a good selection, both boys found a new and satisfactorily male-styled pair of shoes. I played the full-on dad role by making them walk up and down the aisle, checking out how they walked in them.
Next we stopped by a fruit stand and I bought each of us a nectarine. We then walked to a nearby park and enjoyed our delicious treats. While seated on our benches a little girl came up to say hello to us, and then things just got crazy for me. She accused Eli of being a boy that beat her up recently. Given that neither Yavor nor I believed that Eli is even capable of such an action we asked her what Eli's name was... she didn't know. Then we asked a few more questions, after which she decided that it wasn't Eli that beat her up after all, but a boy that looked like him. I suggested that the next time she was being beaten she should get the name of her attacker, or at least a better look at him so she could more readily identify her attacker correctly. This incident didn't seem to deter her affection for the boys, nor theirs for her, so they all played together while Yavor went to get the photos we had ordered. I took some video and laughed to myself as that was all I could do in light of the experience.
When we got back to the orphanage we hung out for a while talking to the caretakers and other kids while Elder Kingsley entertained the kids with his drawing and magic tricks (see videos). After lunch the kids came back out and enjoyed their ice cream. At this point Yavor and I went with the missionaries to a chinese restaraunt and enjoyed a nice chinese lunch complete with enough leftovers to feed the missionaries for a week.
Needing to be back at the orphanage at 3:00pm we husteled back to the hotel where I quickly uploaded photos, videos, etc. and then skyped with Valerie to line up our plans for the afternoon.
Promptly at 3:00pm we rolled up to the orphanage loaded for combat... with nerf guns. And who doesn't love nerf guns? No one, that's who. So I set the boys up to shoot plastic bottles with nerf guns while the missionaries and I met with the director to discuss logistics for the boys attending english classes at the nearby church building. That discussion went well and I think that connection along with the opportunity to learn some english will really help the boys. After our discussion we headed downtown to our favorite dinner spot to eat and skype with everyone at home. Unfortunately the elders of the internet were in a pissy mood and the internet was not working there, so we ate quick and headed over to the church and sat outside so the boys could Skype to everyone back home. During our Skyping, the sister missionaries who are going to be teaching the classes showed up and I was very happy to be able to introduce the boys to them before I left town so they could have that connection in place before I leave.
Finally, we headed home to the orphanage - on the way home Eli got very emotional and was talking about having a hard time with crying and knowing he was going to miss me and his family until we come back for them. He cried quite a bit, but not a meltdown, just a good, normal batch of tears from a young man who is having to deal with emotions that have previously gone untapped. I encouraged him to go ahead and cry if he needed to and when we got back to the orphanage I took the time to sit down with him and talk through his fears. Jesse was also supportive and after a few minutes Eli decided he was ready to go see the other kids. All in all, I call that a success. I know tomorrow will be hard for him, but not as hard as tht random Tuesday four months from now when he is questioning whether he has been forgotten - but I think I have enough of a support system in place locally that we'll be able to maintain a close connection with the boys throughout the next few months.
Only time will tell, but I am optimistic. When a child has waited 13 years for a family, how do you tell him to wait another 5 months?
Pictures for today:
|Jesse's Prosthesis - It is a work of art. Pure magic. He runs at full speed, stops on a dime, and you would never know he wears it unless you look at the ankle. Unbelievable - truly magnificent work.|
|Eli and the girl from the park. Fast friends despite their interesting encounter.|
|Elder Kingsley showing the boys how to draw|
|Eli and one of his close friends|
|Our daily photo|
|Here in 'merica we teach em to shoot quick|
|This is just wrong on so many levels. But it will be a great memory.|
|Hanging out with the kids|