…to sum up this day, it would be this: uncomfortable.
Not going to glamorize this experience, since that would render it absolutely useless to anyone coming after us. I wonder how much of this I am experiencing in common with the other families. I haven’t read about it on their blogs.
I’ll have to describe it with words instead of pictures. For one thing, I do not at all feel comfortable taking the pictures I really want to take when I am with the others; I’m sensing that it would be offensive. For another, although I am continuing to take the pictures I don’t think will offend, they are not uploading correctly, and Joseph hasn’t yet figured out the problem. For a third, the internet here is unsecured, so it isn’t wise to spend too much time using it. So I feel disappointed that I may not be able to post pictures of my meeting with Katie tomorrow, but I am accepting it as the plan of God.
When I am eventually able to post pictures, I plan to go back and insert them into the appropriate days. I plan to do the same thing with written memories as I recall them in the future.
To any families who are coming after me, you will certainly stay in the Budapest in Sofia, and will probably eat supper and breakfast there without Toni. If the staff tells you that it is not customary in their country to leave a tip, please don’t listen to them. Toni told me they were probably just being modest. They were an outstanding staff, very eager to please, and certainly deserved more than just my thanks, but I believed them and didn’t ask Toni until it was too late. Rude American lady.
Toni keeps telling me that if I need any help at all or have any questions, to call her, whether it is day or night. Trouble is, I hate to bother people as it is, but when the person is a lady with a disability which causes her chronic illness, it had better be more urgent than her need for rest, period.
Toni’s brother Marty does all the driving for her, as I mentioned, and her aunt came along to help her with her personal needs. Her brother understands English, but rarely tries to speak it. Her aunt doesn’t know English at all. Since I am spending a lot of time with them but cannot converse with them, I feel like I am being rude and ignoring them. So although she said that’s the way it always is on trips, and as much as I love talking with Toni, I am always relieved when they all converse in Bulgarian for a while as if I was not there.
I am very impressed with her family’s mission. Every member of her family is involved in some way with the adoptions–mother, aunt, nieces, brothers, etc. They consider themselves blessed that they can do what they care about most–helping the children with special needs be adopted into loving families–and God provides them with a modest amount to live on.
We drove through many small villages today to get to Katerina’s city. No village about it; this is a city. And now I understand the phrase, “Soviet-era high-rise apartment buildings that have fallen into disrepair.” It was so obvious that Toni didn’t have to clue me in. In fact, we are staying in a Soviet-era high-rise hotel that Toni is not happy with. She said the attitude here reminds her of the Soviet era, which lasted until 1989, and which she still remembers very well. “No. We don’t do that. No. We can’t. No. We don’t have one of those.” I called the front desk to ask what number to use when calling out of the country. “No. It is impossible to make an international call from this hotel. Try the post office tomorrow.”
In fact, that summarizes the whole spirit that I sensed during my first few hours in this country. It is a feeling of, “What can we do? The problems are so many and so great.”
The atmosphere in this city in the heat of the summer nights reminds me of the word “raunchy.” Eighties-style, low-life, night-club raunchiness permeates this place like its ubiquitous cigarette smoke, like a bad trailer park that grew into a city. As if they have formed a tacit agreement, “What else is there to live for? Let’s party!”
I am so grateful to be spending time with the Blisses at the end of my stay here. I will have some questions for them. Now I am seeing a small glimpse of what David Bliss wrote several months ago about the needs of this country.
Tomorrow morning I am to meet Toni down in the lobby at 9:30, and we will follow a cab to the orphanage, so that Toni, her brother, and her aunt can learn where it is. Toni is concerned that the orphanage will not have handicap access, and I didn’t ask her what the plan would be if that happens. The front entrance has a large flight of stairs. The director told her that there is a back entrance, but nobody yet knows whether the wheelchair will fit through the doorway. We also don’t yet know whether there is an elevator for Toni to go up to the top floor. We don’t know what the director’s visitation rules are for adoptive parents.
So tonight it looks like many things about our visit tomorrow are uncertain. I am grateful for a space of quietness to encourage my heart in the Lord. He does not make mistakes in Bulgaria, just like He doesn’t make mistakes back in my safe and comfy little home. He is the same strong and mighty God!
And tomorrow I get to see my little Katie-bird.