Yesterday we had the opportunity to have dinner with three of the boys that were some of the hardest workers on Wayne and David's construction crew over the years. Benny is one of 150 that have been accepted to a military university. He will start classes in August and will commit about 10 years of service to the Bulgarian National Military. He is very excited about this opportunity! He is currently living in Sofia in a group home similar to the one in Lom but for older children. Bobby is also living in the group home in Sofia and is working for Pepsi Co. He loves his job! He takes orders from companies and delivers the product. Both of these boys have been living in Sofia for about a month. Although they live rent free, they are responsible for purchasing and cooking their own meals. They are given 1 leva (a little less than a dollar) in allowance a day and can earn extra money by doing various chores. The boys told us that it has been a hard adjustment but they seem to be doing well in Sofia.
Naiden was placed in the orphanage as a baby, and has been there ever since. He and Nicky bonded our very first year through his gardening. They worked together to weed the garden and plant various vegetables. Naiden aged out of the orphanage two years ago and is also living in Sofia. He is living on his own and has a full time job working for a technology company in the purchasing and delivery department. Kris doesn't hear from him as much but he seemed to be doing well last night.
It's truly amazing to see the growth and development of these kids over the past 8 years. While you can see physical changes in pictures, it's hard to describe the social, emotional, and mental growth that we have seen. They have overcome the back and forth of foster care, broken relationships, and poor living conditions. And this year, unlike many others there were fewer tears. They know and understand that we are committed to our relationship with them and that we will continue to support them, love them, talk to them, and pray for them. We aren't another relationship that is going to turn against them.
Overall, we had a great week! I think Wayne would be proud of our resiliency to go back to Bulgaria this year without him (and somehow we survived without any catastrophes) and I know he would be proud of the resiliency that has grown in these kids, especially his construction crew.