We went with GREAT anticipation to the orphanage. We walked up the many, many steps eagerly. We checked in with the familiar security gate. We waited in the familiar lobby as Yavor set out to let the social worker know we were there. We held the quilts and the gift for Nina and a little bear Nicole gave to her new sister JoyAnna.
We were invited to come in and talk with the woman who was filling in for the director who wasn't there to "talk" for a few minutes. Here in this room we learned that JoyAnna was in the hospital. She had gone for a blood transfusion on Saturday and contracted pneumonia while she was there, and so they kept her. We learned she may be there for a week to 10 days. "Oh precious Jesus, why? Why is this happening to us?"
"What"?? we were thinking. But God we have come ALL of this way to see and love on our precious little girl, and now she's in the hospital and we learned that we may not even be allowed to visit her?? "What"? This isn't what we expected, God, this isn't what we wanted for our time here, Lord!
Tears sprang to my eyes as they explained the situation. Reminiscent tears about Zoey, and tears of discouraged and frustration about JoyAnna. I wondered why this place where we were, a medical orphanage with a well known hospital within it, could not treat her for the pneumonia?? Hmmm...The woman agreed to call the hospital and ask if we could come by and visit her, or if she was too sick for a visit. "Oh please, Lord, " I prayed..."Please let us at least see her!", "Please!!". They called her back to tell her that we could come today, but we'd have to just visit her through the glass for now, and then they would see how things go.
"What, Lord?".."through the glass?"..."but Lord, you know how I love to hug and love on our children, you know that, right?"..."through the glass, Lord, really??"....
Then God reminded me of this very verse: "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy NO man taketh from you!" John 16:22
"Don't let these men rob you of your joy, Mary, my beloved, " God whispered to me! "Don't let them!", "remember you are to rejoice and pray without ceasing and give thanks in ALL things!"
And so I did just that, as hard as it was! We had a representative from the orphanage ride along with us in Yavor's car and we drove the short distance there. We got out and had to be let into the locked door of the hospital. This was like NO other place that we have ever been to. NONE. That's ALL I'll say about it! We were met by a Dr. and a Nurse (no lady with an alligator purse...:) :) :)--truly..I MUST find humor where I can this day! I MUST!) We had to put on hospital gown, booties, and masks in order to even enter the secured area where JoyAnna was.
So we entered, and I saw her. Let me do my best to describe her to you. First let me say...she is absolutely beautiful! Breathtaking! The photos of her do NOT do her justice at ALL! There she was lying in a crib. The only one in this little room. Thankfully her crib was right next to the window. When we first saw her, her eyes were closed and she was sleeping. Then, she opened her eyes and looked right at me. Oh her eyes...they are HUGE and brown. Her eye lashes are super long. She looked at me, and I pressed my hand against the glass and I waived at her and when I took my mask down for a few seconds (my back was to the authorities in the room) and I smiled at her, she gave me the HUGEST smile back! It was awesome! What a gift from the Lord! Her whole face lit up like a beacon!
God reminded me right then of this very verse: "But Godliness with contentment is GREAT gain!" 1 Timothy 6:6
And you see, because Glenn and I were content with just being able to go and see her, God rewarded us and gave us the GREAT gain of seeing her smile. What a gift! Thank you Jesus!
So of course I asked right then if I could take a photo of her, and was told "NO WAY!"..."there are NO photos allowed in the hospital! NONE!" "Okay...God...Okay...contentment...contentment...I will be content...so please burn these images of her in my mind so that I don't forget any details. NONE!
I must admit when I got the most recent photo of her in a stroller, she looked so very sad, and I wondered if she would be able to smile and interact with us, and now I know that she can! Then she promptly stuck her left thumb into her mouth and sucked it and closed her eyes, still with a slight smile on her face! Someone was visiting her! Someone smiled at her and showed her love, and she knew it! She has the sweetest little nose. She plays with it with her finger when she is sucking her thumb. Her hair is a beautiful brown and she has a LOT of it. It's got a slight curl to it. Her body is physically in good shape really. She weighs about 18 kilograms which is about 40 lbs. For age 6 that's okay. Manageable...way beefier than Zoey for sure! She has full use of her arms and upper body. This was so wonderful to witness. They told us that she LOVES music and musical toys! Oh how she'll fit right in to our family, won't she??
One thing that was hard to see was that she was too big for her metal crib, and her little feet in booties hung out the ends of the crib. That must be very uncomfortable for her.
So we were able to stay in there for about 20 minutes. No one kicked us out or asked us to leave which was amazing, but we were sensitive to not wanting to over stay our welcome on this first visit. She seemed so very tired. She did keep opening her eyes and seeing if we were still there. She LOVED looking at Glenn. She stared at him. It was so sweet! So we got ready to go and they told us we could come back again tomorrow (Tuesday) at at the same time and see how she was doing. They thought that we'd have to visit through the glass again, but they would see. They thought MAYBE by Wednesday she may be able for us to go in and visit her.
Would you PLEASE join us in praying, without ceasing for us to be able to do this. Maybe even tomorrow?? Please pray for God's will with all of that! Thank you so much!
So we took the nurse back to the orphanage. She said that maybe if we got a notarized letter that we might be able to take pictures at the hospital. She said that she would ask the hospital director before tomorrow! Please pray about that, too! She also said that if JoyAnna wasn't so sick, that we would have been able to take her outside. It's 71 degrees and sunny here today! She loves to be outside! Oh..that would have been so wonderful, but I must remember...contentment with what God has given me! Right??
As I write this, it is 3:27 pm Bulgaria time. Glenn is asleep on the bed next to me taking nap. He didn't sleep good at all last night. You see we were supposed to have a visit in the morning and a visit in the afternoon today, tomorrow and Wednesday. But it wasn't to be that way....contentment. So now our afternoons are free and we are just hanging out and waiting to meet Yavor in the hotel restaurant at 6:00 tonight, and so I'm writing to all of you.
So our agency wanted me to give them a call after our first visit with JoyAnna. So I called Toni who is also here in Bulgaria to tell her about it. She did NOT know that JoyAnna was in the hospital. Oh how upset she was. She apologized up and down. I told her it wasn't her fault, and that God must have other plans. She told me, though, that it truly was a MIRACLE that we got to visit JoyAnna at all in the hospital. Usually in Bulgaria, it is NOT like that! She wanted me to know how amazed she was that they allowed it. She told me that she would pray fervently for us to be able to go in and visit her and hold her as soon as tomorrow. She also told us she'd be trying to make sure we could at the very least take photos of her by tomorrow's visit.
And so we ask you all to pray, as we know you will. Thank you all so much for joining us in the journey we are on. It's really neat how God works all of this out. When we return from this trip, Glenn is speaking at our church meeting next Sunday. His topic: realizing that your time, money, resources, schedule, etc, are NOT your own, but they belong to God! Wow!! Oh how he'll have so much to share just based on this trip alone! Thank you Lord!
We love you all and will leave you with this final verse:
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126: 5-6