Anyways, jet lag isn’t what I wanted this blog to be about! Rather I want to share with you the best and worst parts about greeting our Albanian friends after two and a half months away.
Albanians are very gracious in their greetings in that they always ask, MULTIPLE times, how you are doing, how your health is and how the trip was. This is followed by asking about the family. They ask specifically about each family member and literally go through a list, (How’s you mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents, Steve’s mom, dad, brothers, sisters, etc….and if they know us real well, they even ask about the pets!) This is followed by asking specifically about everyone’s health as well! The entire ordeal takes quite a few minutes, and makes a simple errand take forever! (Please understand, this is not a complaint!)
But my FAVORITE part of reconnecting with our old friends (and sometimes acquaintances) is telling them that my sister is now engaged. This is inevitably followed by many congratulations and well wishes for her and her fiancé.
(For those of you reading this and just discovering this terrific news, Amber recently became engaged to Dave Dyson…a great man who was quite possibly, the perfect fit for her and our family! The two very considerately became engaged during our trip to the States so that we could personally share in their joy!)
Excited to hear good news, Albanians are always eager for more, and without missing a beat, inevitably ask if I have any good news myself (asking if I’m pregnant). I politely respond that I’m not. Disappointed, they wish me to have a boy. Somewhere in the conversation, they will have to mention that I’ve gained weight and that it was a mistake to cut my hair. So that’s the worst of it…not too bad.
But now comes the best part…meeting up with the kids! Yesterday we went to visit the girls at the Safe House. They weren’t home so wound up waiting for them for about fifteen minutes in the rain. But, the wet wait was well worth it when the two youngest girls saw us from a distance and ran with all of their might to give us our hugs, kisses and the roses they picked for us in the park. I barley recognized Delvina because her hair had grown much longer and Maria was just as playful and loving as ever. The older girls were equally excited about our arrival (and the gifts we brought back for them!) It really was a sweet reminder of why we’re here…to a make a loving difference in the lives of worthy kids like these!
Today, we made our way to the daily center, where Dani was they first see us. He was so thrilled to see Steve that his eyes literally welled with tears as they were hugging. Now, for those of you that have heard our “Dani stories,” you probably know that Dani can pull out tears on moments notice; but these were genuine, “I’ve missed you, my friend” tears.
Dani announced to the other kids that we were back and immediately the onslaught of hugs and kisses began. I was so touched by all the hugs that I forgot to worry about my head touching theirs and getting lice!! Toli (the youngest of the “Jungle Boys”) hung to me like a leach and wouldn’t’ let go for a good half hour. Steve was bombarded with all the rest as they fought for his attention. Ilka (the oldest) tried to play it cool when he saw us. However, he wolfed down his lunch much faster than any other kid so that he could (nonchalantly) get some special time with Steve while all the others finished their meal (smart kid!).
So that’s the best and worst of it! As hard as it was to say “goodbye” in