Technological Challenges = No Internet = No Posts. So sorry. Thanks for not giving up on us and for your kind comments, emails, messages, etc. We are so grateful for you!!
This should be numerous posts but will likely be one mega post due to time restraints and creativity malfunction.
Last Thursday at 5:00 pm we picked up our referral to see the children. Everyone who had SDA appointments on Wednesday arrived between 4 and 5 and as seems to be the custom of the culture, they don’t really form lines as we do, they just gather in a cluster and everyone knows what order they arrived. That 45 minute wait was made extraordinary by meeting a lady whose blog I have followed for 18 months. It was like running into an old friend, what a treat. 🙂
Back to how this works for those of you coming along this path. When the referrals were ready for distribution a lady came down the stairs carrying the whole armload of dossiers. She went into an adjoining office and the family who had arrived first went into the office. We showed our passports, she handed us the referral paperwork, we each signed the line in the book and we were off. In order as they arrived each facilitator and family entered the office one by one. Painless.
We took off through the 5 pm rush hour traffic toward the airport, made a pass through McDonald’s, and arrived before check-in opened for our flight to Simferopol. It seems that every flight from the Kiev airport boards from an outlying position, they do not have direct boarding onto the planes from the terminal. So, we rode the shuttle to board the nearly new Aerosvit Boeing 737 and enjoyed a smooth one hour flight (Jim and Jarvis, it was at 10,000 feet – we come from a line of pilots, forgive us, we get into airplanes. We were amazed at the flight from Chicago to Frankfurt at 33,000 ft and nearly 600 miles per hour!!).
We arrived in Simferopol at 10:15 pm and were delighted to meet our second facilitator in person. She had secured an apartment for us so after a quick dash through a small market for breakfast essentials we settled into our new home for the coming days. It is an adorable comfortable apartment that we have enjoyed five nights so far.
Each room is painted a bright color and it is so cheerful, much like living in a box of crayons. We are sharing information on our costs as we go to help those planning for this adventure, $40 per night is our cost and we are paying day by day with no time commitment due to uncertainty of how long we will be in Simferopol. We are delighted that it has a small front loading washing machine ~ unique at only half depth to save space and wash two towels at a time ~ although reading the controls is a bit of a test!!
We are located in the center of the city so a large 24 hour market, money exchange and cell and internet providers are all within close walking distance.
Friday was an early morning after a short night as we headed out for the 3 hour drive to Kerch at 7:30 am. During the drive our little guy called our facilitator 3 or 4 times so anxious for us to arrive. He was very concerned about what we would think of his appearance and this accident and made us laugh when he said we might be scared when we saw him as his eyes are swollen and bruised.
Our first stop was the inspector’s office and she was such a pleasant lady who was anxious to help. Next stop was the orphanage to meet with the orphanage doctor and director, both so nice and helpful. The inspector and a representative from the orphanage accompanied us to meet our little guy in the hospital as required by law. We enjoyed a sweet short visit with him and then headed out to begin the paperwork process for adoption. The next stop was for required paperwork from the local hospital where he had been prior to his accident. Then to a notary’s office for a petition and with that in hand back to the inspector’s office to officially begin the paperwork process.
With the business taken care of for the day we enjoyed pizza for a late lunch and got an extra as we left to take for our second visit with him at the hospital. He was so delighted with the pizza and it was good for this Mama and Papa to see him eat well and enjoy it. He asked us many great questions and showed us items we had sent to him in gift packages that he enjoyed. It was such a delight to meet him in person after so many months of exchanging letters and photos.
We arrived back in Simferopol and after a visit to the large 24 hour market headed back to our little “home” with plans to meet the girls the following day, Saturday. We decided to employ the American no-fail-way-to-connect-with-teenagers-plan and talk with them over pizza and pop. We went to their orphanage, checked them out, took a quick ride on the electric bus to the pizza place where we ordered two to go. They were so anxious to see our photos of their brother from the day before so we pulled out the laptop in the pizza place while we waited. We brought the pizzas back to our apartment and enjoyed talking with them for a couple of hours. They are delightful girls and so caring about their brother. They were sure they did not want to be adopted but are willing to sign for him to go and feel it is best for him. They asked us to come for another visit on Sunday and we promised we would.
We were all exhausted after the late arrival on Thursday night, 15 hour day on Friday and 7 more on Saturday so we agreed to sleep in the next morning and then figure out what to do. We gave our facilitator the day off with the exception of calling for our taxi, and we went to the orphanage alone to meet a dear lady who works with the children and has taught them English for over a year. We have exchanged many emails during that time and it was such a joy to meet her in person. She checked the girls out of the orphanage and we walked to a nearby park. It was a sweet time, talking and walking, taking photos of the girls along the way. It was a lovely park with an eternal flame and memorial wall in memory of the unknown soldiers who died in The Great War, that Americans call World War II.
We stopped by a market to buy fruit, yogurt, pizza slices, cheese, juice and other foods for the girls. They enjoyed selecting their favorites filling two bags. They enjoyed showing us special foods they thought we would like and we purchased them for our dinner and agreed that they were very good. They enjoyed a mini party last night after we left, sharing the bounty with their friends.
Along the walk the older girl told us the story (in Russian, translated for us by the English teacher) of a tiny puppy, only a few days old with its eyes still closed, a girl in the orphanage had found dumped near the train tracks. She brought it home with her and they were feeding it milk from a bottle and keeping it in a bucket. When we got back they invited us up to her room to see it. Adorable…and even more precious to see these young ladies caring so tenderly for this little puppy. We were having fun taking photos when another girl appeared with a tiny, likely about a week or two old, kitten. And then came another and another and then the mother. These girls, who have no one to love them but each other, are tenderly caring for a mother cat, her 4 kittens and a small puppy in a government run orphanage where food for them is scarce. It was incredible to see their sacrifice.
Today we returned to the orphanage for another visit, this time to talk very seriously about their decision about adoption. The younger girl is sure she is not interested and will not change her mind. This has been her feeling from the beginning, 18 months ago. It is uncertain whether the officials will agree to separate them from their brother but it is sure that they will not agree to separate the girls. So, if the one does not desire to come that will determine it for both of them. We will see what tomorrow brings. We have trusted the Lord to lead every step of this path and we are at peace that He is at work and will reveal the plan to us soon.
One young lady in this orphanage is 15 and aging out soon. She so wants a family and to go to America that she calls our facilitator often expressing her longing to be adopted. Our facilitator had asked us if we would be willing to meet this girl. Of course, we are honored to meet any child. Today we had the opportunity to meet her and what a precious, gentle, sweet spirit. She yanked deep at my heart. She is a true orphan, both of her parents are deceased and her older brothers are aged out of the orphanage. She is very bright and several grade levels ahead of the other girls her age. She loves to read and her teacher accompanied us to her room to meet her. She wanted to tell us what a good girl she was and how wonderful she would be in a family. I sat on the side of the bed beside this sweet girl as 4 tall adults stood in front of us. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have this line of adults in front of you trying to “promote” you to a family. Beyond my comprehension totally.
My heart breaks for these children. There is another girl we have met each day who also desires to be adopted. She is 14, very sweet and beautiful. I wish I could put the photos on this blog that I took of these two beautiful girls who have no hope for a future cuddling that mama cat. And even more I wish I had a video to show you of the two of them following us out the drive to the gate and calling out “Goodbye!!!” in English as we turned down the street to board the bus for home. To go to sleep at night dreaming of the love of a mama and papa, a home to live in, enough food to eat and clothes that are yours…we have no idea. There are 98 children in this orphanage, some quite small, who have no one to love and protect them.
We are learning that caring for others is far more than giving a few dollars to a good cause, buying a t-shirt or putting a photo on the refrigerator to pray. It is investing all we have, opening our home and letting them eat from our refrigerator, really getting into the deep, messy, tough stuff of the human life on this side of heaven. Seeing those massive places that only exist because of sin brings the reality of Christ’s gift to us into clear focus.
As we pray without ceasing in the next hours for the Lord’s clear direction to the children He has for us, we think of something shared with us last week. On our last full day in Kiev, a family headed home for their ten day wait joined us at Karen’s for the day prior to their rooster-early flight from Kiev home. It is their second adoption in two years and Matt said (I won’t quote as I won’t get it right – please post this on your blog Matt, it was profound!!) that when Jesus healed someone He did not consider whether they deserved it or not…or whether they would be grateful or not, with the 10 lepers only one returned to say thanks…or whether they would use it for good. He just saw their pain and need and healed them. That is what we must do. We must not be in the business of deciding who is deserving, we just do what Christ calls us to do for whomever He calls us to serve.
Lord, help us to see these children as you see them…you saved us when we were so undeserving, and it was our sin that had us in that place. Most of these children suffer from their parents’ sin…not their own.