We came to the conclusion that 1) Penny likes some stretch time 2) Daddy picked some really fun toys out. The ball being, unquestionably, the biggest hit.
The second visit of the day was unspeakably harder. She was having some tummy ailments, which I guess are to be filed under better to know than be surprised, but it was heartbreaking to watch her. 2 hours of tearless sobs. No position comfortable, no matter what, no consoling. I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right and that thou, in faithfulness hast afflicted me." Psalm 119:75
I don't know...I do know, or least understand physically, the whys. But like so much of this journey, the how's remain in question. Holding my child, whom I must leave in this place, watching her seize in my arms (again) with tears streaming down my face and trying to stifle my sobs, lest I upset her more. And this, apparently, is normal. Normal for here. Normal for now. Normal to our shame, Church, because it shouldn't be normal at all. Paul identified himself as chief amongst sinners. I will tell you, before setting foot here, I should have self identified as chief among the ignorant. And I was sure I knew; sure I was prepared.
Laura found a vending machine across the street and brought me a medicinal cup of cocoa. Our fearless guide patiently waited for the sobs to subside so I could drink it, so as not to wear it in the car, (or for his car to wear it, first bump we hit, which is pretty reasonable on his part.) The drive to the next town was pretty. We went up into the foothills, which opened up to a huge plain. The area is all farmland. Interesting sites included a group of biplanes for crop dusting, which I wasn't fast enough to catch a picture of (we'll try again on the way back) and finally, some cows.
The town in tiny. The hotel (there's 1) was hosting a wedding reception. Lots of partying, and unfortunately, no eating here. The café downstairs had ham sammys, +/- cheese. We decided to venture further afield. The first place we tried turned us away, maybe they were having a party too? The second place, which seems to be a bar/disco sort of combo, was a success. Yeah!!! I had what must have been the world's largest shopska salad and was blissfully happy. The hotel is nice...our bathroom would be a Tennessee fan's dream; and orange and white glory! But it's big, and has a functioning heated towel rack. You could do far worse.
We spent Sunday morning, after discovering breakfast is sort of optional here (the wedding was rocking well past midnight, so maybe we were the only people up at 0900 local time.) Chocolate cake, while tempting, seemed like a bit much sugar, even for Americans. So we settled on fancy coffee (and you know, they have syrups....I just can't figure out how to get a shot of it into my coffee) and the instant oatmeal Laura wisely packed. There is a church in town, but for the life of us, we couldn't find it. So we listened to Alistair Begg & watched some praise and worship music, and called it church. In the afternoon we wandered about the town, meeting at least one friendly local, and his fairly friendly (arguably too much so, insofar as Laura was concerned) dog. These folks were urban homesteading before it was cool. No lawns, but gardens and orchards galore. Pretty cool. We came back, muddle our way through order tea solo (Laura got warm milk *gag* so I thought better of it and ordered a bottle of juice right out of the cooler.) Dinner was again around 7, and there was yet another special event (Wedding the preceding night, pretty sure it was a wake at lunch time, and a rollicking party last night; no idea what the occasion, but they partied long....and I slept not so long :( ) In the revelers' defense, I was so nervous, it could have been perfectly still and I might still have slept lousy.
This morning we skipped the restaurant all together, and headed to the corner grocery, which has yummy warm rolls filled with Turkish delight, chocolate & hazelnuts, or "marmalade" which tastes suspiciously like apple butter. Coffee at the café and we were off to the social services building. Which was where we thought it was (the only governmental looking office on the whole plaza....with national, regional, and local flags flying, which was sort of a give away.) We met what may well have been their whole CPS staff, including the director. Nice folks. We let our fearless guide chat it up (who's one of those innately suave types, can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, both sincerely and charming all at once.) I had her photo book put together, and am again thanking God for the stroke of insight to do those. Covers about 50% of the questions you'll be asked anyway, and an easy sort of ice breaker. Second good call was including a picture of Ellie dog. These are dog people, by & large. *phew* We waited, sweaty palmed and slightly hand wringing, to the amusement of the staff, what seemed like a life time, for Julie (called "Fanny", a diminutive form of her birth name) to arrive.
She arrived. While I had tons of ideas about what Penny was like (some accurate, so not so much), I frankly had no idea what to expect here. She's perfect! (Mom bias) Cute brown pony tail, lashes again most women would die for, bluish-green eyes much like mine. Apparently likes her glasses about as much as I do mine, and sees possibly less than I do without mine. Her foster family, a wonderful older couple, explained she needs a sedated full ophthalmological exam. Not sure if it's a funding or a consent issue, but she's not had it. She hold everything close to her right eye, which seems to be the stronger of the two. For all of that, she fast on her feet with a steady gate, though I doubt she has fabulous depth perception. We quickly discovered her true love, however. Hair! Pull on it, flip your head down, and attempt to untangle mine (kiddo-it is, in fact, impossible.) She gave it quite the college try though.
We headed off to check out the swings and little park near the municipal offices. She loves to swing, and the swings here have real, fixed seats. She doesn't hang on...at all. Remains to be seen if we'll be replacing ours or she'll learn to hang on. ^_^ We took a lunch break and were able to come back for a second afternoon visit (yeah!!! Another prayer answered.) We hit the same park, and discovered 1-she's quick, 2-I'm pretty quick too, if I do say so myself, 3-everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, will go in her mouth (*gag*), and 4-both she and I will sleep together tonight, even if the partiers in the restaurant bring the house down, lol!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
James 1:17 NKJV