“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today was day 4 in Bulgaria; day 3 in Lom. David Applegate, David Sanders, Dylan, Eric, and myself traveled to the group home this morning to start painting the children’s rooms. Yesterday we prepped the walls by cleaning off mildew and mold with a bleach mixture. Paint is often the easiest way to gain the most instant gratification and today was no different; the new coats of paint brightened each room and made a big difference. As a group, we can probably only take credit for painting 2 out of the 4 rooms we were working on. After lunch, a group of 4-5 of the older boys at the orphanage showed up to help and eagerly grabbed every brush and paint roller we had.
The enthusiasm and effort shown by the guys was refreshing to see, and not only because they afforded us a work break. Time and time again the kids at both the group home and orphanage show a willingness to learn new things, whether it be new work skills, new English words, or a new sense of wanting to help and serve others. The guys did get a little paint on the ceiling and floor, but they immediately grabbed a towel and got down on their hands and knees to clean up without being asked. Gloria, a young girl at the group home, is constantly trying to learn English words while also showing a determination to teach us Bulgarian (Gloria is definitely a quicker learner than we are).
Perhaps the clearest case of one of the kids working to change and grow is Zoiko. Zoiko is by now famous to all who our familiar with our trips for his outgoing personality and magic shows. However, Zoiko wasn’t always so happy to see us. The first year FBC came to Lom, Zoiko was difficult to work with and generally a terror to the mission team. Zoiko is by now an honorary member of our group, leading the activities with the kids and helping to get everyone to pay attention and listen. He even took off from his job all week to assist with our work at the orphanage. Unbeknownst to us, he provided water bottles and ice cream to everyone’s rooms at the hotel. We would have never known he did this if Kris had not told us. Zoiko is now living on his own outside of the orphanage and has invited us to his apartment one night this week.
Nearly every kid we have come into contact with over the past 8 years has shown the same willingness to learn and grow despite the clear disadvantages they have been dealt by life. Anything we could possibly provide to the kids ourselves pales in comparison to the blessings they have given us by allowing us to witness the growth they go through year after year. This gives us hope that our work has made a lasting impact on the lives of some of the kids we have come to know and love, but I know without a doubt that they have made a lasting impact on us.
By: Joe Sanders
By: Joe Sanders