When it comes to working with youth-at-risk at our orphan’s training center (Agapedia), the most imporant thing is JUST BEING THERE.

What do the kids need? They need someone to call friend. They need familiarity. They need a place to come where people will laugh at their jokes. They need a place to celebrate Christmas.

I’ve only been in Bulgaria now for 2 months now, so my Bulgarian language skills are still really limited and often it is hard for me to communicate everything with the teenagers. BUT, smiles are universal and because I’m willing to laugh with the kids, I feel like I’ve gained a whole possy of friends quickly in these wonderful kids.

They are so much more upfront than the average person about what they think, which is extremely valuable to me as a foreigner. If I’m dressed “wrong”, they’ll tell me. If I’m sick, they’ll tell me to get medicine. If I say something wrong, they’ll correct me. If I don’t know about pop culture, they’ll make sure to get me up to date.

Already, they are family to me. They give me directions or walk with me on my way home. We go get lunch together or go to the store. I love running into them around town because they are ALWAYS happy to see me and willing to welcome me with complete abandon, complete excitement at our happenstance meeting. They take good care of me.

Here you can see some pictures of us after we decorated the orphan’s training center for Christmas.  We had a great time doing it together!

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