Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tragedy in Bulgaria

Earlier this week, a story circulated on social media concerning a family that came from the U.S. to Bulgaria to adopt two special needs boys.  While here, the father passed away suddenly.  My family has been a part of helping out this family, and we have had requests for an update on what happened.  In this blog I am going to give you the story as we saw it.

About two weeks ago, Eric and Natalie Quesenberry came to Bulgaria along with their 13 year old son Ian to pick up their adopted sons James and Jaren.  Jaren is 5 and is blind.  James is 11 and is autistic.  Saturday February 27th, Eric died suddenly in their rented apartment in downtown Sofia.  The family had planned to leave for America the following morning and even had their bags packed and ready to go.

Just yesterday (Tuesday March 2), it was confirmed that Eric had suffered a massive heart attack, and nothing could have been done to save him. 

Saturday evening, we received a message from our coworkers from IMB (International Mission Board) who live out of town.  Through the missionary grapevine, they had received notice of the Quesenberry’s situation.  They contacted Sasha thinking that being Bulgarian she could be useful to this family as they tried to figure out what the next steps were in getting the family as well as Eric’s remains back to the U.S.

Natalie and the family moved out of the apartment that night and spent the night with a U.S. embassy family.  The following day they moved to our house and spent Sunday night and most of Monday with us.

Natalie was, understandably very distressed.  She had several very hard nights emotionally.  However, during this unimaginably hard time she remained brave and dealt with all of details that needed to be taken care of.  We admire her strength in this tragedy!

Ian was strong for his mom, and did better than anyone could expect a 13-year-old boy to do under such circumstances.

While at our house, both Sasha and I talked with James and Jaren about what had happened.  They do not speak English yet, so up until that point they had only gotten bits and pieces of what was going on.  They also were both struggling emotionally.  After all, they had just been adopted when their dad suddenly died.  It was hard on the whole family.

Monday evening, a young couple arrived from the Quesenberry's home church.  With the help of the adoption agency and another missionary couple, we moved the Quesenberreis into another apartment downtown.  We continued to check on them and be available when necessary.  Other missionaries brought them food and helped care for them.

This morning, they flew back to America.  As I write this, they are likely in the air making their way home.

So many people helped this family in their time of need.  I would like to extend thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Sofia and the workers there who went out of their way to help the Quesenberries.

I would also like to thank the adoption agency that helped them with the legal paperwork related to this tragedy.

I also want to thank my daughters.  Our three girls helped out in ways that only three kids could.  They befriended the Quesenberry kids and loved on them.

Finally I would like to thank the missionary community of Bulgaria.  Missionaries from several agencies and countries came together to help this family through this tragedy.  I would like to extend a special thanks to Shawn and Natalie Key who mobilized the missionary community and did more to help out the Quesenberries than anyone else.

For us in Bulgaria, our part in this story is done, but I would ask you to continue to pray for the Quesenberries.  Their struggle is just beginning.  They are going home to America, while their father has gone home to heaven.  We get to rest and recover from having lived several days in crisis mode.  They need to keep going in a world without Eric.  Please pray for strength for all the members of the Quesenberry family as well as for their support network back in the U.S.

Dave with his new pal Jaren.  (Whenever Jaren ate at the table he asked for "The Man" to sit with him.)


  1. We will continue to lift them in prayer as they arrive in the U.S. This tragedy shook our community and we will be there for them family as they adjust to their new normal. God Bless you all!

  2. Thank you so much for reaching out and for sharing this! What a blessing you all have been!

  3. Amazing love from such community....blessings abound

  4. What a story! Prayers for the family! So proud of the community there for taking care of them during such a tragedy. Natalie is a brave woman! Continued prayers for her and God Bless her for her strength for the journey she has embarked on!

  5. Our prayers will be with Natalie and the children as they begin this new chapter in their lives together. The Lord has already carried them through some of the hard stuff and He will continue to provide for them stateside as did while they were still in Bulgaria.

  6. Thanks for sharing this story!

  7. Thanks for all you did over on that side of the globe. We are planning a memorial service for this Saturday, March 12 at 11am here in York, PA for Eric. May the service point people to the saviour.


    Brother Clayton