Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parent Teacher Conference

Tonight I went to my first Bulgarian parent teacher conference.  A couple of things struck me.  The first was that the teacher made sure to announce that there would be a prayer to Jesus Christ, and songs of a religious nature at the Christmas program.  She explained that the spiritual nature of Christmas is part of the overall Bulgarian culture and it is tradition to sing spiritual songs at the Christmas presentation.  However, if anyone had a problem they could talk to her and have their children excused from that part of the program.  After the teacher explained all this, the woman next to me said, "Well, it's Jesus' birthday after all.  Why shouldn't there be a spiritual nature to the program."

I can't imagine such a conversation at a public school in America.

The other thing that interested me was how much the teacher went into detail as to her personal theology.  She said, that she teaches about everything being God.  The sun, the trees, the children's parents.  I almost felt like chiming in and saying, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I know I'm not God," but not being totally confident in my Bulgarian yet, and not wanting to make a fool of myself had I misunderstood, I remained silent.  Another parent confirmed later that she did indeed say what I thought she said.

We also got some great news about Sophie.  The teacher gave us a glowing report.  She told us that our daughter is doing better in class than some of the kids who speak Bulgarian as a first language.  She is understanding more and more.  Though she still talks mostly in English with the teacher, she is interacting with her peers in Bulgarian.  She seems to understand almost everything.  The teacher said that she is very bright and very attentive.

Having received such a great report, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our good friends Charles and Shelly for the great tips they gave us in raising an American kid in a foreign school.  Your advice has been very helpful to us and our little girl.

Conference Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day we have been planing for for months.  ReachGlobal leaders from around Eastern Europe will arrive in Sofia for a week of meetings.  Just when I thought I had all the wrinkles ironed out of the logistical details, I got a e-mail from the U.S. Embassy informing all U.S. citizens of planed demonstrations by Bulgarian Union workers in down-town Sofia.  There will be thousands of disgruntled workers marching through the capital very close to the hotel where we will all be gathering.

The protest will be peaceful, but it will also disrupt traffic on the very streets where I will be driving.

How fun would life be if it were easy?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Untold Story

As some of you may remember, last March Sasha took a trip up to Northern Bulgaria to visit an orphanage.  There was a little girl at this orphanage who we have been praying for ever since.  She was going through the adoption process so we did not share much on our blog as we did not want to jeopardize the adoption process.  However, she is now in the United States, and a U.S. citizen.  She has a new Mommy and Daddy, and we can now share her story.  This posting will only give you a glimpse of their story.  If you would like to hear more about this little girl and the amazing family that adopted her you can go to their blog www.theblessingofverity.com

This little girl was 9 years old when Sasha first saw her, yet she weighed less than some newborn babies.  She is unable to walk, and still takes food from a bottle and wears diapers.  She has some mental handicaps, but nothing that should cause her to be in such a physical state.

She has spent almost all of her life in a crib in the same room of an orphanage.  She had very little human contact, and no play time.  She had her diaper changed once a day.  This went on for 9 years.  To us it is amazing that this little girl is even alive.

The family that adopted her is one of the most loving families we have ever met.  They are not some Brad and Angelina couple with lots of money looking to help those less fortunate.  They already have 10 kids of their own, one of whom has down-syndrome.  This family had every reason to not go through the trouble and expense of adopting a desperately unhealthy little orphan girl from another country.  Who would have blamed them if they just turned a blind eye to the needs of this little one?  After all, they can only do so much.  Yet all they gave freely for the sake of this little girl.

A week ago today this little girl spent her last day in an orphanage.  She is an orphan no longer.  She is a daughter.  The day after they picked her up her parents had to take her to a Bulgarian hospital in the middle of the night.  Fortunately, just a couple days before we had shown them one of the best private hospitals in Bulgaria, so they knew where to go.  The doctors at the hospital could not believe that this little girl was 9 years old.  They also could not believe that she was Bulgarian.  They had no idea of the neglect that is going on in this country in the orphanage system.

Now she is in her new home.  American doctors are looking after her in a hospital in Pennsylvania.  We have heard good reports so far.  She remains in our prayers.

There is a great need to reform the government run children programs in Bulgaria.  Things like this should not happen, yet this little girl was not alone.  There are more like her.

Please pray that real change would happen.  We don’t pretend to know what the solution is, but something has to change.  Thank God that at least this little girl got out, and that, from the reports we have heard, many others are to follow with other families.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

City Team Leaders' Conference

I'm putting the finishing touches on a City Team Leader conference that I'm hosting for ReachGlobal leadership from 5 countries in Eastern Europe.  I have some experience in managing such events.  I've set up meetings, and gatherings of this nature before.  I've hosted teams that have come to visit our field.  Yet this trip has required much more work than previous such gatherings.  There are a lot more people coming to this get-together.  Just getting them all to and from the airport requires more logistics than before.  Not to mention that I have to line up presenters for some of the time slots.

Busy work aside though, I am very excited about this gathering.  I get the chance to show of ReachGlobal's new city.  Long term, I'm looking for strategic partnerships.  It could be that partnerships can form between us and some of the other local RG city teams.  Either way, it is always exciting just to share my vision for this country.

Please keep this event in your prayers.  It is from November 30th to December 6th.  Please pray that God would use this time for His glory and that we would all come out of it with a renewed vision for Eastern Europe.