Whole New World

©Nissa GadboisGeorge, Nick, and Olivia looking for Bulgaria on the map

It has been almost one year.  It has been a voyage of discovery for everyone.  We have learned some about each other and a whole lot more about ourselves.

For many months, we just worked on how to belong to each other.  For one of them, this will take all of her remaining childhood and likely much of her adulthood.  We have experienced firsthand that there are no private sins.  We have experienced firsthand that the wounded wound everyone around them.  We have learned that where love is lacking, love will be poured out like a libation to the one who lacks.  We have learned that in emptying ourselves, we need others to help fill us up – all of us.  And we have learned that often, we don’t even have to ask.  It is a grace that people readily respond to.

Since Michaelmas, we have been working on more academic pursuits.  Our Bulgarians had never even seen a map.  Olivia is completely illiterate and functionally not conversant in her native language.  It was put down to a mild intellectual disability and a disability called dyslalia.  We can find no evidence of either.  After some questioning – and information volunteered by our kids – we have pieced together that they were utterly neglected at school.  They weren’t offered anything like even a basic education.  They were allowed to do as they pleased during school, including to go outside and lay or to sleep.  Students aren’t promoted to the next grade based on achievement, merely on the number of years they have been ‘registered’.

Both of them are making progress – for Nick it is steady, for Olivia it is very slow and sporadic.  Her focus has improved tremendously.  When she first arrived, her limit was about five minutes of learning once or twice a day.  Now, she will focus through a lesson whether or not she is able to understand.  She seems to respond well to the increased structure of our normal homeschool routine.  We hope that her regression in other areas (all social) signals a healing in progress.  We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us in so many ways.  Some have chosen items from our wish list, some have shared from their own treasure, some have donated funds toward our needs.

Our next project is to finish converting the carriage house to a large dedicated schoolroom.  We made some wonderful progress last fall before Brian injured his back.  We feel that having a dedicated space will benefit everyone, but especially Olivia because it will relieve the upheaval and confusion that comes with having to rearrange the dining room for meals, weekends, and hospitality.  It is our hope that, like dressing for the job, having a dedicated space will place her – and everyone – in the proper focused state of mind, relaxed and ready to learn.

We estimate that completing demolition, replacing the fragile windows, insulating, wiring, heating and finishing the space will cost from $5000-$10000.  Unfortunately, we will have to hire contractors to do the work.  Brian’s 80 hour work week just doesn’t leave any time for such projects now.  If you feel led to make a gift, you can do it via PayPal (give@renaissance-family.com).  If you prefer to send a gift by mail, please email us (give@renaissance-family.com) and we will respond with our mailing address. Alternately, we invite you to shop with us.  All proceeds support our family and ministries.