I am at a complete loss about where to begin. My week in Bulgaria was, as I said in my email, mind-boggling. It was beyond belief to me that people live in such a place as this orphanage in which we spent the week working.
Before I forget, let me explain the pictures you see above... One of the things that we discovered we could do without speaking the same language was make friendship bracelets. This is one of our girls making a bracelet with a boy that lives in our orphanage. This particular boy loves to say things like, "SUPER!", and the fave word of us all..."WOOOOOOW!" : ) The next two photos give you an idea of the work we got to do. The walls when we arrived were a deep green color like the gate you see in the last picture. The place quite honestly, looked like a dungeon, especially with such little electricity inside. We painted a mountain scene in light colors, which did a world of good to brighten up the place. We also made several picnic tables to put in their dining room in the basement and to place outside for them to sit on.
In the midst of all the work, we did take a bit of time to play with the kids. You see Jon here bouncing the basketball to four of the kiddos. The final picture is my friend, Desi, on the final day during our celebration. He adorned himself with streamers.
In the picture where the first picnic table has just been completed, you see the center room of the building. To the left of this room is the boys' corridor, and to the right is the girls' corridor. Up the stairs you see are rooms that house adults...why?...good question. (I can elaborate on that bit later.) Directly beneath the upper staircase is a staircase that leads down into the dining room and kitchen. In my email, you saw a picture of what that entryway to the dining room looked like...horrid. The dining room when we arrived had 2 inches of standing water sitting in it. The kids would have to walk through this water to get their meals and sit at tables in this room to eat. The drain in the middle of the room had been clogged for 2 years! No one had attempted to remedy that situation. Shocking. There are countless more details I can tell you about this facility...I will stop there for now. Let me just say...no human being should live in this environment. Our biggest feeling of accomplishment came when we unclogged that drain and saw the floor dry when we left! We put 6 picnic tables inside for them to eat on, as well.
Since my return on Saturday, I have been praying that I will not forget what I saw. I am praying that I will know what I am to do to continue to be a part of life at the orphanage in whatever way that is possible.
I found myself overcome by emotion throughout the week. My heart hurt for Bobby, who didn't have people to play football with him. I was moved by Desi, who went to sit and look out his window when we left after our week of work because he seemed overwhelmed by emotion knowing we would not return the next day. As I helped scrub the floor in the dining room that we bleached beyond imagination to remove as much filth as possible, tears surfaced as I thought about these kids not even knowing what "clean" smells like. I laughed with joy as I watched Desi speak broken English to my girls. He gradually showed us that he knew more than he initially let on. He giggled with delight when the girls called him out on how much he knew! I smiled from ear-to-ear as my friend (above making the bracelet) constantly affirmed my painting with a thumbs-up and a "Super!" every few minutes for an entire morning one day. He also helped me tear tape to protect a window. He would tear me a piece and then walk away. I would have to look for him between each piece I needed. (It makes me laugh right now just thinking about it!) I was touched when I saw Bulgaria and America unite and play a friendly game of football, helping each other up when they knocked each other down and encouraging great shots on goal.
So many other memories and stories float around inside me, and I am trying to journal them to avoid forgetting any moment I spent in Tran, Bulgaria. I will tell you that I heard the Gospel in a different way this past week. I heard the message of Hope with new perspective. I am filled with a new, clearer sense of thankgiving knowing that this world we live in is not the end of the story. I must believe in a loving God who did not intend for life to be lived as I have seen it in the past week. I must. The alternative, the hopelessness and utter depair is too painful to comprehend. I choose to believe.