Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday update by Wayne

On Friday we built two of the Corn Hole game boards using some discarded wood trim which was almost a 2 x 4 in size but with an ogee cut on one side and a new piece of particle board (we could not find 3/4" thick plywood). We will let the boys put a few coats of paint on it after we are gone. We were expecting some men to bring a brick saw with a diamond tipped blade to come cut the concrete tiles that will be installed around some of the perimeter, they were supposed to arrive at 10:00 am. As they had not arrived by lunch time we went back to the hotel to eat. We had marked several of the concrete tiles that needed to be cut before we left. The workers had arrived while we were gone and had cut the marked pieces and were now waiting on us. We marked the rest of the tiles and installed them as soon as they were cut. The man who operated the saw also took a try at playing cornhole. He threw his first toss right through the hole! Later in the day these same guys delivered five of the used concrete/wood benches which will be installed on the patio. By the end of the day we had completed our work on the patio with the only item remaining to be done was to fill the cracks with the grout Kiro instructed the boys to use. The corn hole game boards were also completed and several minutes were spent tossing the bags made by Nicky.

The children knew that our time there was coming to an end and several good-byes were said through teary eyes, theirs and ours. Svetly gave me his blank personal diary and told me that I was his best friend. Svetly will be leaving the orphanage in September to go to a vocational school to become a chef. Most of us guys think he would be better suited for a demolition contractor. He is supposed to return to the orphanage next year for summer vacation. We also took our annual photo assisted by Zoiko.

On Saturday we packed up, checked out of the hotel and went by the orphanage for a couple more hours and more teary good-byes. We drove to our hotel in Sofia and will leave Bulgaria on our flight which is scheduled to leave at 6:10 am. On our drive from Lom plans were made and notes taken on what we would do next year.

Friday and Saturday!

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Friday and Saturday! , a set on Flickr.

view pictures here!

On our long journey home!

Wayne on the van!

We stopped to look at the sunflowers!


Today we stayed at the orphanage for about an hour just to say our goodbyes. It is always so hard to leave them! We all shared lots of hugs and kisses! Of course there were also tears on both sides! Zoiko arrived at our hotel early this morning during breakfast. He knew it was our last day and wanted to help any way he could. He collected our luggage and helped pack it on the vans. He also brought small gifts to us as tokens of his love and appreciation. Definitely not the same Zoiko from the first year! We took lots more pictures and promised to send them along with letters from home. Steffi, our translator and friend, will be able to deliver them to the kids and translate for them. She is a wonderful friend and has been a tremendous help for us. We could not come to Bulgaria without Steffi and Kris! We missed having Tedi along this year. She had to stay and take care of their son, Christopher, who was recovering from his tonsil surgery. We were pleased to leave lots of supplies and stuff for the kids. The men were satisfied with their completed projects, too. God has definitely blessed us all!


Zoiko is one of our "success" stories from Lom! The first year we came he despised us. He cursed at us and was determined to ruin all of our games and activities. Zoiko pitched many fits and generally sat around smoking that year. Each year we have returned to find a much improved Zoiko! This year Zoiko acted as our assistant. He met us at our hotel to help unload the luggage and drag it all upstairs. He greeted us each day and eagerly joined us in our games, activities and construction projects. When we played our handbells with the children, he made sure the kids understood exactly how it worked and gave out strict instructions. When our cd player did not work, he came outside with his and played our music for us. Zoiko organized several limbo contests and on the last day, he took over as "game show host". For the past few years we have played a "white elephant" game with bags of small gifts we bring for the kids. This year instead of Kris or Steffi explaining the rules and organizing the game, Zoiko did it. He took over beautifully! We all thoroughly enjoyed watching him and the kids loved it! In the stack of t-shirts we brought, Zoiko found one that was most appropriate for him. The shirt he wore said "I have decided to put myself in charge."

Decorating in Bulgaria

One of our projects this year was to help the older girls decorate their rooms. We assumed that we would be working on the rooms they usually occupied; however, we found out that they were moving into different rooms. The director of the orphanage decided to remodel the rooms previously used by the "babies" for the older girls. We arrived to find some of the work was started, but not much had been completed. Two of the older boys, Naiden and Todor, were plastering and painting. Some local carpenters were installing doors and preparing to install a small kitchen. Once it is complete, the girls will have three bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen. The director hopes this will help prepare them for independent life when they have to leave the orphanage. Everything will be very nice once it is done, but things move very slowly in Bulgaria. No one really gets in a hurry! Susan had to spend most of the week waiting on the walls to be painted and the other work completed. On Friday she finally got to hang the curtains she brought and decorate the walls some with pictures, posters and decals. The girls were very excited about the stuff Susan did to their "apartment"! Susan was happy but frustrated that she had to leave things partially finished. Hopefully, Steffi can send us pictures of the rooms when they are completely done.

The New Home for the "Babies"

Ten of the children from the orphanage have been moved to a new home in Lom. They renovated several rooms in the local kindergarten school building just for these children ages 3 to 7. We visited Thursday morning and spent a couple of hours playing with them. We recognized 2 or 3 from last year. The new space is great! It is very clean with lots of room to play and lots of caregivers. Five of the 10 children are still in diapers. Two are very handicapped and don't walk very well. The children who were able to play went outside with us. We blew bubbles, drew with sidewalk chalk, danced and made a hand print poster with tempera paints. Back inside we surprised them with balloons. They loved the balloons and did not pop a single one! Then we made pictures with stickers. It was a great visit! We delivered gifts of diapers and cleaning supplies along with our cd player and music. We were very pleased with the new home for these children. When they are older, they will probably have to move back into the orphanage.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Construction Update by Wayne

Monday –

Got teenage boys started painting the girls’ apartment.

Removed damaged swing set and developed design to correct the problem.

Started moving the concrete material for the patio and developed design for retaining wall.

Tuesday –

Completed retaining wall and developed design for keeping it in place using rebar and concrete. Set up concrete for Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 PM.

Wednesday –

Changed design for retaining wall, picked up more rebar and installed concrete tile form in the morning. Installed the fix for the swing set and put it back in place, ready for concrete to pour in the holes. Ate lunch a little early to be sure to be back before 1:00 concrete delivery.

Waited on concrete until 2:00, driver was a dufuss. New design worked perfectly and we got pretty good help from a few of the boys. Although the extra concrete was just dumped on the ground we made very good use of it for the orphanage by putting it where Kiro suggested. Four trucks loaded with fill dirt arrived just before the concrete truck left and dumped the dirt in a location that would require wheel barrows to move it into place. Several of the boys competed to see who could throw the dirt the longest distance with shovels ( remember Tom Sawyer and the fence painting?) Only a severe lightning storm prevented a good broom finish on the concrete.

Thursday –

We moved all the dirt and were able to install most of the concrete tiles. Naiden, Todor and a couple other teenagers worked on filling the joints between the tiles with a concrete solution suggested and recommended by Kiro. Svetly worked on anything we asked of him (we like to keep him busy) and Misho showed his ability to know what comes next on a construction project ( he would be a very good carpenter foreman or superintendent). We also sent Kris to purchase a product similar to plywood with which to build a set of boards on which to play the popular game called Corn Hole.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We had a good day yesterday. The cement truck was a major attraction! We painted! It was fun as always until a thunderstorm forced us inside to paint fingernails again. We played ring toss and bean bag toss most of the morning and gave away hundreds of silly bands.

Kris Angelov is an amazing man! He is here with us when we know he would rather be with Tedi and Christopher. Christopher is having a hard time recovering from his surgery. Tedi is with him at her mother's house. Kris is so patient. He makes sure we all have the food we want at the restaurants. He shops at all the hardware stores. He works very hard with the men. He still has time to sit with the kids and talk to them about stuff. We could not do this without him!

Steffi and Boika have been great translators! Always there when we need them! They work hard too! They also love the kids and the kids love them!

The group home was good last night. They baked and cooked for us! We stayed a couple of hours visiting and eating.

We are headed to see the new home for the "babies" today.