Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 3 in Plovdiv

Well, I have not been blogging nearly as much as I thought I would! This has been an overwhelming experience in many ways -- in some we have been pleasantly surprised and in others heartbroken. It has left us needing to spend a lot of time processing and talking about what we are experiencing, and not a lot of time for blogging.

We are adjusting to the cultural differences and really beginning to enjoy the area and the people. It is fascinating to hear a different language -- one so completely different than English. I did hear Huey Lewis playing in McDonalds last night while Discovery channel played on the TV in the background, so there are some familiar things! We are enjoying the Bulgarian food, but last night the restaurant in our hotel was closed so we had to go out for something quick.

We have had a couple of big surprises in our time with Bojidar that will bring some changes in how we move forward from here. I will write about that more later. Right now I am exhausted from very little sleep last night so pictures and a more thorough update later! Your prayers are appreciated as we continue on this journey!

More soon......

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 2 - Arrive in Plovdiv

Tired and overstimulated is the best way to describe how we have started our trip. We left our home at noon on Saturday and traveled for 15-16 hours with at most an hour sleep along the way. We arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria at 1:00 pm where we meet Toni and her brother Marty who take us to the hotel. We try our best to stay awake until evening, so that we can adjust to our new timezone. We order pizza, eat and then go to sleep at about 6:30 pm. Kristin and I both wake up thinking that it had been hours since we fell asleep. It is only 7:53 pm!!

After a few hours we fall back asleep only to wake up at about 2:00 am. We fall asleep at roughly 4 am and wake up to get ready to leave Sofia for Plovdiv at about 6:15 am. That was not exactly the quality sleep that we needed!

I have a whole new respect for Abraham:

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The most foreign destination that Kristin and I have ever been is New York City, and while the peoples of that city may speak strangely and have customs that are difficult to understand. I speak the same language. Now we are in a truly different country, with different customs, mannerisms and language. Listening to conversations, that I can't understand and trying to read the body language of the people is difficult. The people are usually very serious in tone, to an American it almost seems angry. Then at the end of the conversation (or even ordering at McDonalds) the people smile and say ciao. I find it very difficult to understand anything happening around me, and have decided to give up even trying.

Imagine how life must have changed for Abraham. He left a country and a situation of comfort to go where God called him. he didn't just visit there as we have, he moved there to people of strange language and cultures. They worshipped gods, who were not God. Yet Abraham went and prospered. The Bible does not tell us the feelings he experienced, which is why I now have new found appreciation for this patriarch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day One in Sofia

We made it! We did have to take a different flight, but it worked out ok and we arrived in Sofia on time. We were in the Frankfurt airport for about 2 hours. It is amazing how many things you see in English. All announcements on the intercom system are done in German and then English, which was a great relief!

Toni met us at the airport and what a welcome sight!! It is such a blessing to know that she walks with us through this entire process. She is every bit as gracious and kind as we heard she was, and it is easy to see why everyone loves her so much!! She and her brother Marty drove us to our hotel and we are there now trying to stay awake until we can go to bed!! She advised us to not go to sleep until nighttime so that our adjustment will be easier. I think Keith and I slept about one hour each total on all of our flights.

Sofia is the largest city in Bulgaria. Toni said that there are about two and a half million people living here! Tomorrow morning we head out to meet Bojidar. He is in the city of Plovdiv, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria. I can't wait to post pictures tomorrow. For now, here is the view off of our tiny balcony......notice the mountains in the clouds.

It all still seems kind of surreal. We are all the way across the Atlantic Ocean!! Amazing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sitting in the airport.....

......our journey begins with a bit of frustration. Our flight out of Cincinnati has been delayed for 40 min, which means that we will likely not make our connecting flight to Frankfurt. They have switched us to a different flight, which means a different airline, which means we will be sandwiched in between two other people for the eight hour flight to Germany. My frequent flying husband is working to see what he can do about getting us better seating -- and my long legs hope he can manage it!!

It is at these moments God reminds me that our purpose here is not comfort, but a rescue mission. I should not be surprised by any of the discomfort (in my legs, my feelings, my thoughts) that we will encounter along the way.

More to come.......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Today on the farm.......

We worked on our rabbit hutch.....

we rejoiced that the warmer weather allowed us to start our diesel tractor......

we marveled that our Mom still wears a sweatshirt worn by our brother 22+ years ago.......and looks great doing it....

and we thanked God that it was warm enough to be outside without our teeth chattering!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This is why.....

.... we are flying to Bulgaria in two weeks. This is why we are doing something that is uncomfortable, scary, and will change our lives forever. I started reading this blog when she brought her two youngest daughters home from Ukraine. It is TRAGIC what conditions these babies live in! Hailee had sores on the front and back of her head from banging it on her crib for stimulation. They are never held, never comforted, never played with....many are drugged to keep them quiet and sleeping. It is easy to not think about and so hard to forget once you do. She is five years old and weighed 16 pounds when they brought her home. She was a shell. Now look at her!! You can see so much change in these first comparison pictures, but look at the second link!! Oh. My. Word. It fills me with such hope, joy, and courage -- to do the hard thing!! What price can we put on that? How that must make Jesus smile!!

Is it hard? No doubt. Does it cost? Dearly. Is it worth it? I can't wait to find out for myself!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bulgaria here we come!!

I am working on the premise here of "better late than never"!! I wish now that I would have been documenting our lives in much more detail over the past six months or so. So many things happening...surprising, exciting, unexpected, difficult. Words that could be used to describe most adventures.

On February 19th we will be taking one more step on our latest journey. We fly to Washington DC, then Paris, and then on to Sofia, Bulgaria. Nearly 24 hours total travel time. We will be met by our Bulgarian attorney (Toni) on the 20th. She will also act as our translator. We will spend the 21st - 25th in Lukovit meeting B. We will be with him at his orphanage each day for several hours in the morning, and then again in the evening. We will return to Sofia on the 25th for the weekend. On Monday the 28th we head out to Plovdiv to meet L. We will be in Plovdiv until the 2nd when we will return to Sofia. We head home on the 3rd.

One unique aspect of adopting a waiting child (a child with special needs) from Bulgaria is that once we return home, Toni will be our representative in court and the legal process will all take place while we wait here in the US. Once that is completed they will legally be our children and we can go and bring them home! The wait time between trips is usually 3-5 months. We are praying to be able to return to pick them up by the end of July (of course, we hope that the time will be much sooner, but in our initial -- also known as unrealistic planning-- we also thought we would have them home by Christmas......) since the Bulgarian government goes on a summer break from late July to early September. We don't want our process to grind to a halt during that time. We pray and trust that God's timing is perfect, a truth He has shown us over and over!

We have no doubt that we will be changed by this trip. Experiencing the orphanages is something that we are both anxious about -- how we will respond to all that we see. We don't want to remain the same and are eager for God to change our hearts to be more like His. Neither of us have ever traveled internationally, so that will also be something new and different.

So, in only 19 more days we will see these sweet children about which we know so little, but amazingly already love so much.