Valerie would be proud of my breakfast, Bulgarian yogurt with granola and bananna slices - yum! At 0945 I husteled my way through the rain to the local LDS building a few blocks from my hotel. I beat everyone there except for the missionaries and a few younger kids that were eager to impress me with their english, learned from the cartoon network. The congregation was small but I enjoyed listening to the talks in Bulgarian without translation which meant I caught about half of what was said. Following the meeting I talked to the missionaries about how to allow the boys to be able to attend English classes which are held each week at the building in downtown Stara Zagora. It sounds like the boys will be escorted to and from the meeting by the male missionaried and the female missionaries will be teaching the classes.
At noon, Yavor and I drove up to the orphanage (only getting lost in the Roma ghetto once). I gave the boys some shirts I had bought them (fyi, Val - they need a youth LARGE) and they eagerly put them on and gave me a tour of their room (see videos). From there we drove to the local mall which was really nice and clean. We ate at the McDonalds in the food court (blech) and they loved it. After that we wandered a bit and played air hockey (no, I didn't let them win, I crushed them equally.) Finally, we drove back to the orphanage and hung out for while where I talked with the psychologist about the boys, their orphanage experience and the routines and rules of the facility (see more videos).
Unfortunately there was only time for one visit today since I couldn't be there till noon, but we ended up being together for nearly four hours and we had a great time. The boys handled going out in public very well and they adapted well to changing situations. The only bad news is I'm pretty sure both of them will experience GI-distress because of eating a burger, fries and a big coke which I'm sure is rare for them.
The plans for tomorrow will be a bit different in that I'll meet with each of them seperately during the morning and then in the afternoon we are going to as a group on a field trip (perhaps the zoo?) We are interested in seeing how Eli handles being away from Jesse as it is apparent that he depends on Jesse heavily to help him communicate and is less likely to speak up when Jesse's around. But at the same time, Eli will stick up for himself; today I asked how well he could read and he responded by writing out the entire alphabet for me... in my face, I guess.
I'm so happy to know that Eli and Jesse won't have to worry about becoming separated through adoption because as I spend more time with them I can see how traumatic separation would be for both boys. Eli would likely be devastated and would probably suffer long-term trauma since he and Jesse are so close and depend on each other so much.
Tomorrow's Monday and it's tough to acknowledge that I'll be leaving them behind in only three more days. Paperwork cannot move quickly enough.
Also a quick update on Gabe... he is doing well and his FM took him to English classes yesterday. Aside from being worried that he was going to the doctor, he did well and I believe they will continue to go in an effort to help him transition. I will include an old picture his FM sent me below the pictures from today:
|Caretaker, Jesse, Eli, Psychologist|
|Jesse, Eli (Spider-Man is Jesse's favorite superhero - since I picked out the shirts that makes me awesome.)|
|The Boys and I|
|Eli's Silly Face|
|I don't know what's worse, McDonalds or.... well nevermind, nothing's worse. The boys liked it and that's what matters.|
|The boys in their room.|
|The Orphanage Grounds|
|Gabe with a Therapist from August 2013.|