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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time to get wet!

         I like to say that adoption wont give you stretch marks but it will stretch you!  And boy has it ever.  A huge thank you to the many people who have been involved both directly and indirectly with our journey!                          When Monique and I started this journey,  we knew we were entering uncharted waters but we told God that we would walk in faith and if He closed a door we would persist regardless, try a window or two but if there was no path forward, we would know we had been obedient and had done our best.  When we started, our number one challenge for us, was the financial piece.  I have spent many a night freaking out unable to sleep and waking up in a pool of sweat.  Oops,  I mean prayerfully reflecting upon Gods scriptures about his faithfulness and resting in His presence and provision.    I know it's not a very American thing to do to talk about our personal finances but I have felt I should for a while now.  I, like many of us, enjoy our accomplishments and material gains and look to them as signs of success and prosperity.  I have no major problem with that.  All of us want to provide good things and experiences for ourselves families and friends.  We as fathers and parents work very hard to provide a good living condition for our families.  We have always tried to do the same and I am proud of what Monique and I have as a family and the success of our children.  We have always worked hard and when that wasn't enough, we worked harder and when that wasn't enough we found ways to cut back and keep things within our means.  That said, we always seem to just make enough week to week. We are a pay check to pay check household.  I say this  because I want to encourage those who are contemplating adoption or some huge leap of faith, to step out of the boat!  I love that scripture!  How many of us are willing to get out of the boat in some very scary weather conditions to walk with God.  In my opinion, who cares if you freak out and start to sink!  You got out of the boat!  Many many many times my faith lacked and lacks and I sunk and I sink in fear but God continued to send his word through scripture or people and pull me/us close to His presence to continue the walk.  Very little of us realize that Peter accomplished his goal and that was to walk with Jesus on the water.  So what if he got a little wet!  Besides, he continued to grow in faith because he was willing to get wet in the first place.
          To come up with over half our combined yearly income to adopt two children and then add more expense to an already very tight budget is, as I have already eluded to in past posts, irresponsible and reckless.  It has been uncomfortable, painful and faith building, to step out and walk the seemingly impossible.  Yet, two children as a result, are rescued from a life without a loving home and security.  Aren't children worth risking it all for?  Which one of us fathers and mothers would not give up everything and there lives for one of their own children!  Should we not risk the same for others who long for safety, love and a roof over their heads as well.  But reckless foolishness is more than just adoption, it comes in all forms.  What does stepping out of the boat look like to you.  Were do you need or desire to venture in this life? Is it missions or starting a business or what about giving a sum of money to some worth while cause.  What does it look like to you to step out and enjoy the life that God desires to take you through?  What or were will you need to go to completely rely on Gods provision to take you through it.  If we are trusting in our own self then our trust lies in the wrong place.
          Some might think our accomplishment in rescuing two wonderful children from a unknown and perilous life extraordinary or amazing and I would say you are absolutely right!  It is and was extraordinary and an accomplishment that by ourselves and in ourselves we could not have done!  Walking in faith is hard, especially when your faith is small and your forcing yourself to stretch it.  I can say with complete honesty that this is a God thing and we are no one special or extraordinary.  I have said before that I don't feel like anyone special and that is true.  It took me a long time to figure why that was.  Why shouldn't I feel special?  Here we are sacrificing everything for these children.  Every dollar we have has been spent or borrowed to pursue this rescue. Our comfort and leisure in life has been risked in pursuit of these two lives.  Why shouldn't I feel special? It finally hit me why and it looks like this.  The word clearly commands followers of Christ to take care of the fatherless and the widows.  What we did is obedience to scripture nothing more and nothing less.  What I feel though is honored that God would call us to this level of caring for the fatherless.  I believe with all my heart that adoption is not for everyone but taking care of the fatherless is everyone's responsibility.
        It's so nice to be able to write these things from the other side and confidently speak of Gods provisions, it's another thing to not see his provision and take a step out of the boat.  What a great adventure it has been and continues to be.  What's your adventure look like....

"Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  Romans 8:24-26

Vision for the Children International

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just a few things we have learned along the way....

          Just a few things we have learned along the way.  Chronologically, this post should have been a couple back.  I just found time to finish and post.  Hope it's not too dry...
        These are things we have learned because we took more time to find history, meet with relatives and tour home towns.  We have taken everything with a grain of salt and a lot doesn't make sense to us still as we continue to piece  the puzzle together.  We have learned that Lydia was not born with a lazy eye but it was a result of a trauma.  What we were told is she was alone and "family" came back or into the room and she had hit something and that's when her eye became lazy.  So we suspect some muscle tearing.  Daniel just recently told us as well, that she was 2 or 3 at the time and that she ran into a corner.  They never took her to a doctor.   Today we went out for lunch and Monique asked about an inch and half scar over Daniels right eye.  Karen talked with Daniel about it and found out that his mother had cut him with a knife while she was drunk.  According to him she did not remember doing it after she woke up. I am sure the stories will continue to come out as the days, months and years go by. 
         Today Monique mentioned how nice it is to have a little helper around the house and Daniel proudly said He knows how to do it all because he did it all in his house.  Karen being our interpreter asked more questions about this and I asked what his mom did and He without a second thought said she just drank.  We are finding more and more that though we still believe he was loved by his mom, she was not a good parent.  So it sounds like she drank a lot and he took care of himself and his sister and the house. Dad was absent.  
         We now also know that before they were separated and sent to two different orphanages,  they also spent time at the towns shelter.  How long i don't know yet.  We found this out while walking in their town and Daniel took off to say hi to an older lady.  With the help of our translator she told us how special these two kids were when they were under her care.  Come to find out she was the director of shelter.  She also said Daniel was a hard worker, gentleman and took care of his sister while Lydia was, in my words, more of a princess and needed looking out for and taking care of. 
       Daniel is an amazing worker.  I haven't grasped the whole picture yet or understand the why but he is intense!   When their is a project to be done, put together or fixed, he becomes so enthusiastic and intense that it borders on crazed.  I can hardly communicate to him or bring him back from his drive toward completion of the project.  I seem to be having a slow but steady progress in controlling his almost panicky enthusiasm but it's a slow process.  He is a boy full of joy and happiness and an intense energy level.
             In Ukraine the men are often absent from children's lives, either physically or by alcohol.  So I suspect some of the meltdowns our kids have had, are related to me being a male authority figure and them not knowing how to deal with that.  So far I have caused or been involved in both melt downs the kids have had.  Tonight I put the kids to bed before mamma came into read a story and for whatever reason, something triggered our happy boy to shut completely down and roll away and get quietly mad.  Nothing worked in pulling him out of this.  His body didn't respond to tickles or any of my hilarious humor and so I said good night and went to talk with Monique and Karen.   After explaining what happened, Karen asked if she could try and find out what was wrong and of course I said yes.  After talking with him for awhile, she said he didn't know what he was feeling or why he was feeling the way he did.  He said nothing happened to trigger the response.  So Karen lovingly comforted him and told him to pray and talk to God.  Monique came in and read and cuddled with him and things improved.  I latter came in and spent a little time with him and he was back to his usual self.  We are now wondering if he might have had some sort of sensory overload.  Time will tell. 
       That's just the beginning but this is the end of this post for me...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Road Home.....

         Lattes that dreams are made of, people we understand and toilets, towels  and sinks that turn on and off by themselves.  Were in Munich Germany waiting for the second leg of our flight home to America to begin.  What a wonderful feeling it is to be served and understood.  The whole mind set of the customer is always right feels so good.  The kids are having a lot of firsts.  For instance, turning on a sink that doesn't have handles, flushing an automatic toilet or how about floors that move so you don't have to walk.  What an amazing new world of firsts.
         We have just finished seven wonderful days with Karen Springs and miss her dearly.  After spending five weeks in Ukraine in the Donetsk region with very little interaction with others of like mind, it was literally a breath of fresh air to be allowed to stay and spend time with such a wonderful lady.  Karens heart permeates with love and passion for the fatherless and her savior and that love and passion fills the rooms of her apartment.   It really was difficult to leave her hospitality and friendship behind.  It is our deepest desire to continue that relationship and follow her lead in continuing to help the fatherless and to spread awareness of the needs.  We look forward to the day we see her again!
         The last three days were amazing in how six weeks of work and a year of prep all magically came together.   Thursday we had our first appointment with US Embassy even though we still did not have the kids passports.   Even still they set us up for our interview on Friday.  All we needed was their passports which was suppose to be arriving by train from Donestk by the shake and bake (no Fedex priority overnight here).  Friday morning started off with Nadia saying she was off to pick up passports at train station and she had the final translated documents and so we hopped into taxi to go to doctors for medicals and after shelling out more grivna to get to head of the line and more US dollars,  I was finally done shelling out money for the adoption and off to the interview.  We said our goodbys to Nadia at the embassy and in we went.  At the gate, passports came out and again Monique had left her passport at home.  Just kidding!  This time I pulled out my passport to find I had grabbed Jeremiahs passport, fortunately they remembered me and graciously let me in.  Monique had been given power of attorney just in case I had to fly home, otherwise we would have to of gone home and possibly missed our appointment.  Interview was basically signing documents and taking oath.  The officer excepted my Colorado Drivers license as proof of identity and I signed papers as well.  Thirty minutes later we had sealed visa documents and we headed back to metro and home.  Tickets were purchased  for 645 am Saturday which meant we needed to be up at 4am.  Long story short, we had dinner with Karen and another couple adopting a special needs child and by the time we packed and went to bed it was a little after 3am which meant we took a nap before getting up to meet taxi.  Literally, the last three days have been a blur but wow, it is finished!  Only 7 hours more and we will be touching down in the good old US of A.

Ps:  this is not my last post.  I have at least 2 to 3 more in me about our journey :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Morning coffee

I am no one special.  I honestly feel very inadequate most of the time for this job.  Maybe it's just me, but as I have gotten older, I have enjoyed the routines of life.  Point in case, this morning: I roll out of bed and hit the bathroom, do my business half awake and look forward to staying half awake while having a nice hot pot of French pressed coffee while the rest of the family sleeps.  Notice I didn't say cup, I said pot.  Plan to relax and enjoy the cool morning on the patio and slowly wake up.  Exiting, I unlock the bathroom door.  Notice also, I said unlocked the door.  I made that mistake once since bringing our new ones home.  Nothing like standing their going to the bathroom and your 7 year old girl is gibbering away about who knows what, while I am yelling: "Dear! Ah, dear! can you get Lydia?!?!!"  As it is, I get stage fright while going but I digress.   So anyway, I unlock door and their is Daniel doing the potty dance and me going, oh yah, forgot about you and were is mom?  Mom is out running with Karen this morning so I must be Mr. Mom.  I still think I might have a chance for a cup but before I can, there's Daniel half dressed wanting food.  Out comes the eggs and a Ukrainian bread with stuffed cheese and Daniel starting to crack the eggs into pan while I am getting oven lit for stuffed bread.  What happens next is a blur.  Daniel goes to get something out of fridge and I hear the Russian equivalent of Oops and we have salsa everywhere.  He quickly tries to clean up with every rag and sponge in kitchen and successfully spreads it all over fridge, into the drawers, onto floor and kitchen cabinets even into the freezer.  The kids got skills!  I externally remain calm and mirror a understanding, loving father as I try to keep eggs from burning and running around cleaning off jars and emptying the fridge and rebuilding the kitchen from the ground up with Daniel doing his best to help.  Somehow the eggs, bread and a clean kitchen all come together as Monique and Karen walk happily through the door to enjoy a morning cup of coffee and breakfast.   Well I got to go, Daniel was trying to fly kite off balcony and I it's now stuck in the tree across the court yard....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The wheat is ready to harvest...

        The wheat has turned golden and is being harvested today.  It's hard to believe when we first arrived in the  Donetsk region that the wheat was still green and growing.  This is our last day and we are leaving this area.  We are currently on the shake and back and we are baking!   We are in third class and swimming in sweat.  Everyone has wet clothing, dripping foreheads and wet hair.  It is a heat you cant escape and the vinyl seats don't help.  It's suffocating and Jeremiah and I have tried to find patches of coolness by standing in between the train cars.  The day was close to 90 and this train car has one window in each compartment which cracks open a mere 4 inches.  Jeremiah and I have become Ukrainian and our shirts came off.  Monique wanted to do the same but we felt it might not be the best idea.  We have gotten used to the day to day struggles of Ukraine life and try to take this 11 hour train ride in stride.  
       This week started out with the hope we could leave on Tuesday but its Thursday now, so much for hope!  Everyday was filled with necessary things to do that always took longer than expected.  There was just nothing you could do about it but try and keep your patience.  My patience though, has been wearing thin.  I have gotten to the point that I just can't stand it anymore.  So even though it is hot as hell in this train, I am so glad to be doing something different and that feels like progress!  
       Yesterday started like any other day but this time we were going to visit some family members of our new kids and visit their homes and areas they grew up in and ending with a stop at their parents grave site.  For those who have been here they don't need any description of those stuck living in poverty but as the day wore on it became clearer to us. We now have pictures of Daniel playing in his small yard as a baby with no clothes, playing in the dirt with the dogs. We stopped at their old house and  very little remains of it now as thieves have taken what was of any value.  What remains show very little comfort and a very harsh way of life.  Both parents passed away due to TB related complications .  Which is a poverty related disease and usually  a curable disease if treated.  Many die because of a lack of knowledge, money and basic care.  Visiting their uncle and seeing their grandparents house left me with feelings hard to describe.  It was as if the horror of it all permeated my whole being.  It was a feeling that you needed to take a shower to attempt to clean it off but no shower could wash it away.   It took thirty days of living here to get the full impact of life  in Ukraine.  The former socialist communist past has left this country in so many different levels of  devastation.  We have spent most of our times in big cities that have every level of success and poverty but you can see progress and beauty slowly taking hold in these areas.  Yesterday allowed me inside of what lies outside the progress.  It was filled with deplorable and overwhelming lack.  Whats amazing to me is people who have had so little for so long because of their history,  that I believe a lot of them don't even realize their living in such lack and need.   Because of this, the sad reality  is the children suffer, parents die early, alcoholism runs rampant, desperate girls wanting out of this life, willingly and unwillingly end up in the sex trade and young boys end up in crime.   It is vicious cycle with very little hope of change without a people and a society that is willing to open their eyes and make a difference.  Small or great,  it is all necessary if we are to start reversing poverty in our world.  It doesn't take much to start the change.    
       Our day ended with a trip to their  mother and grandmothers cemetery.  Tall grass,weeds and tombstones covered the hill overlooking ancient factories, old towns  and sprawling countryside.  The sky was blue and the air was still.   Slowly driving up the dry rutted dirt road we stopped at the site.  Two hand made orthodox crosses marked the overgrown plots.  Their family names painted and nailed to their crosses marked mamma and grandmas tombs.  For a moment we all stood in silence and then walked a short distance away to allow Daniel and  Lydia time alone.  Ten to 15 minutes passed as they silently dealt with grief and then  Daniel  fell to the ground and wept with Lydia crying behind him. It was a moment that left us all in tears as we watched two kids whose lives had been turned upside down by the loss of their families grieve. The trip home was quite as their grief continued.  Somewhere along the way it was done and they became little kids again.  
            Jeremiah had been left at home because he couldn't fit into the taxi and I believe in part he also wanted to have a day by himself.  But the day had lasted a lot longer than expected and he was getting tired of his house arrest.  We still needed train tickets and it required an hour and half wait in line.  It was deemed best for me to take kids home and Nadia and Monique would stay in line to buy tickets.  I didn't argue.  The taxi took kids and I home and as fast as we could we all high tailed it to McDonalds and the park!  Neither of them have ever been in a McDonalds nor ever been to a big city so this was a huge moment.  Jeremiah is now used to lines here and with me close behind, he shoved his way to the front of the line and found an open teller ( he is adapting to Ukrainian methods).     We ordered 3 Big and tasty meals, large fries and coca cola!  I don't think they even new what a burger was, let alone know how to pick one up and eat it!  Fries were easy and they loved them.  Burger was something new.  Daniel followed my lead and took his half and started in, Lydia on the other hand, would not even try it.   I told her I wanted her to try one bite and that was all she needed to eat before she could have her coke.  Frankly, Jeremiah and I wanted whatever was left over!   She finally gave in and ate a bite.   Next time I looked,  her burger was gone and she was happily eating fries.  McDonalds was a hit and not a fry was left uneaten.  Off to the park we went and with a little education about family stays close, look both ways and hold hands while crossing street, we made it to park.  The rest was more fun and with us all exhausted, they quickly fell asleep at home.
         Its now 11 at night and the train has finally become bearable.  Train lights are on low and everyone is sleeping to the rocking clickity clack of the shake and bake.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The wait is over....

          I feel like the expectant father of old who waits in the waiting room, as his wife is wisked away to give birth to his children in another room.  I anxiously wait for any news of her condition and the health of our new ones.  
        Ten days of waiting have gone and since the last post not a lot has changed.  3 days ago our neighbor had one of the loudest parties I've ever experienced that lasted all night long.  Monique and I didn't sleep a wink even with earplugs.  It was miserable, we even moved to a couch in the living room to distance ourselves but to no avail.  Unfortunately, the next couple of days were filled with "tension" as Monique and I just couldn't get along.  I like to declare that it was cabin fever!  I felt like a lion in a cage pacing  back and forth.  We have since made restitution but I am still recovering at the local sanitarium from the bruises and lacerations given to me from my every understanding and loving wife.  I jest of course and as she has repeatedly claimed, it was all my fault.  So again dear, I am sorry.  What's a blog without complete honesty. LOL 
         We did get out everyday to shop or site see.  I have concluded that you don't necessarily need a refrigerator here.  Little markets everywhere allow you to shop everyday if you need and we do.  If nothing more than to grab a couple more jugs of water for drinking and cooking with.  I did some research on water pollution  in Donetsk and well, you just don't want to know my findings.   We saw the first Beatles Monument in Russia and was happy to cross that off my bucket list.  Entertaining but not impressive.  When I hear monument, I imagine marble and statues like the Greek or Roman statues of old but that was not the case.  As we took pictures in front of the life size Beatle members, I kept telling Monique, this couldn't be it and I think these are made out of plastic.  As we left to meet up with Nadia for an update and celebration of July 4th at McDonalds, I told her I think we must have been close but maybe it was around the back of the building etc.  Well, I was wrong, it was the Beatle Monument.  I was correct though, in that it was made of plastic with a coating of bronze.  We also went to the Donetsk Soccer field which might host the 2012 World cup.  It was an absolutely beautiful area with 70000 plants with 35000 of those being rose plants.  Well worth the walk and visit.  
           Meeting up with Nadia at McDonalds, we found she had good news and bad.  We have gotten used to the good and bad being  used together.  One must always follow the other here in Ukraine.  The bad news was that the camp Daniel was in, would not release him without a representative from his orphanage in attendance.  That meant unless we had a van, only one of us could pick up the children.  The van option was out of the question due to cost.  Neither of us expected that after a year of work we would not be together to pickup our children. Monique was very heavy hearted this morning not understanding why this had happened but nothing could be done and so alone she went this morning to pick up our kids.  The good news is we had no issues with orphanages playing cat and mouse as we tried to get release signatures from them!  What we were hoping for was to get all the running around done today but in the haste of leaving Monique left her passport at the apartment.  Fortunately, most of the events planned today could be accomplished without it but we will need to go back tomorrow and show all those concerned the original passport.  We are still on track though for getting out Wednesday evening by train for Kiev.  We are hoping to fly home the weekend of the 16th if all goes well.  We should receive the kids passports next weds and then we can start getting their visas for travel to US!  I say this as long as I don't hear more "I have some good news and some bad news" statements.  
              Daniel is now in the care of Monique!  He is very happy and ready to leave camp with mama.  We brought gifts for him to give to his friends and he eagerly passed them out.   Mama said his new cloths fit him and that he also has a black eye.  No one is telling us why yet but I am hoping their is another kid recovering from like injuries.  I know its not Christ like sounding  but if he had to defend himself, this father hopes he did a good job of it!  In our last post, we mentioned a kid that followed us around at the camp.  Today he found our interpreter and asked if we were here to adopt a child for their body parts.  More evidence  of the many  lies feed to orphans here about Americans.  The stories we hear are horrible and its amazing we can get through the lies, fears and constant harassment these children receive, just to get them to say yes to being adopted.  
            As I continue to wait pacing back and forth in our apartment for the next phone call,  I feel an overwhelming inability to raise these children.  I feel that nothing we have gone through is compared to what lies ahead.  Fear, insecurity, the unknowns and what ifs are setting in and I wonder if we have what it takes to raise these little guys.  Like a father holding nervously and awkwardly his tiny newborn son, I am scared and in awe, all at the same time.  God help us!
           We now have our little girl!  They are driving home now. When Daniel saw Lydia for the second time in  15 months, he ran to her, gave her a big hug and swung her around  in a circle.  Classic!  This orphanage was night and day compared to the other one.  When we gave our donation to them they were so appreciative  and began to show Monique all that they do with the donations.  The party was not what we were expecting and ended up being a pass out gifts and leave treats and fruit for latter kinda party.  When I was done talking to Monique on the phone, you could hear Lydia and Daniel  talking constantly to each other in the background.  Asked what was being said, they were telling each other how much they missed each other.  Monique is so happy and relieved to finally have them together.  They are so happy together and seem to have a genuine love and concern for each other.  Daniel is also quit the gentleman and refused to let mama carry anything and hauled a very heavy suitcase around for her!  Thats my boy!  One more day here and we leave to Kiev to stay with Karen Springs!  Pass out the cigars, this Dad is now a Papa of two new kids!

Ps:  Monique will probably post her first hand take on today later but I expect it might be awhile due to the crazy schedule we are now entering into.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Half way through with ten day waiting period....

           We are on day 5 of our 10 day waiting period and the monotony is kicking in.  I am not one for routine except of course for my morning coffee.   I am spontaneous and love the unexpected so this is a bit of a challenge for me.   We have been doing our best to keep expenses down and with Nadia's help, we have nearly cut our rent in half.  Instead of staying in our 2 bedroom apartment in Donesk, we downsized and moved one block away.  The apartment is  half the cost for apparent reasons.  We now enjoy a 70's looking lifestyle with 5 different floorings ( 1 linoleum floor in bedroom with rug, 3 different tiled floors and dark blue carpeting in living room) and multi wallpapered walls.  Gone is the flat screen tv, modern kitchen and comfortable beds but we still have a nice washer.   Everything is functional and relatively clean and our bathtub/shower is about a foot longer.   We are no longer visited by our friendly coach roaches.  We now have one bedroom with a pull out couch and a living room decorated with very old faded stuffed velour couches and chairs and two lovely framed puzzle pictures on the walls.  Very few lights work and our bedroom light flickers like a strobe light until it finally gathers enough strength to turn on, if it so desires. We have a flash light by the switch for light as back up till it turns on  Last night  it didn't turn on and we forgot to switch it off.   As we were drifting to sleep it decided to turn on.  The apartments not pleasant looking but functional, clean and we have made it as comfortable as possible.    I have finally gotten to use my leatherman, duck tape and superglue more here than the entire trip.  I fixed a broken electric fan (still not running) with superglue and duck tape, installed broken shower doors on tub enclosure and used duck tape on shower head so we didn't drown from spray going in all directions.  Our bed from hell now is more comfortable, as we have added padding to the top with comforters and blankets.  We have adapted and made our transitions.  It's not bad for around 40 US dollars a day. The good news is that we still have wi-fi and air conditioning. =)
         Our day consists of waking up, getting ready, prep and eating of meals, a usual walk around town, a visit to a coffee shop and market for supplies and lastly, ending the day with us huddled around a laptop watching a movie before going to bed..  I think today, we might stay in and get caught up on our reading.  We are reading two books, The connected child by Dr. Purvis and  Radical by David Platt both excellent books and highly recommended. maybe even play a game. 
          One of the challenges faced in Ukraine  for us, is the inability to recognize safe and unsafe.  Most of the environment we walk in has an appearance of poverty, lack and ghetto atmosphere and yet can be entirely safe and normal.  Areas in the states I would not intentionally enter, live or even walk through because of its outward appearance and unsafe feeling.  Jeremiah and I are on constantly alert and there is very little visually that gives you a sense of peace in this type of environment.  Even though we live in what is considered a normal safe building complex, I still find a little peace of mind at night in balancing a glass on the front door knob as an early warning device for unwanted entry.  Our old place had so many un announced people coming and going while we were gone (cleaning lady, land lady, fixit people) that we began slipping a small piece of paper in the door jam to see if anyone had walked in while we wee gone or for a warning that someone might be in apartment.  It's not that we walk around in constant fear but our mind and senses are always a little uptight because of the unfamiliar environment.  After awhile one starts getting used to 3x4 dark elevators, pitch black stairwells, dark passage ways, poorly lit streets and people who never smile at you and generally always sound cranky.  That being said, a building or area can look horrible on the outside with bad stairs and elevator but the same building can contain a beautiful expensive apartment and have Mercedes and BMWs parked outside.  I have gotten accustomed to looking at the cars parked on the sidewalks as an indicator of the quality or safety of an area, not buildings or trash or condition of anything else.  If we only knew the language, everything would be different.  It's impossible to build a relationship or get involved in community without communication. Its the number one frustration we endure!  
       Like the building exteriors many people come off harsh or suspicious but with persistence, a little ignorance and smiles, sometimes we get through the exterior to find warmth and kindness.  There are two places we have frequented that we continue to go back to, not because their the cheapest or have the biggest selections but because we somehow have connected.  Our favorite coffee house is our safe haven.  We go their because they smile and genuinely try to cross over the language issues.  We always feel welcomed and it's a nice break from a day of navigating this city of over a million people.  They know us when we enter and smile at us as we attempt to communicate our selections of coffee.    They genuinely seem to like us and that is such a wonderful feeling to relax in.   The second favorite place is our little mom and pop store about the size of our living room and dinning area combined.  We were won over on our first day in their shop.  We, Monique primarily,  was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  FYI, food here is not the same or packaged the same as in America.  I don't know how many times we have stared at packages of sauces or cans trying to figure out there content.  Ketchup, sauces, tomato  paste and tomato products are nearly impossible to figure out their difference by their packaging.  We just opened three packages combined into a set for dinner, thinking we had boughten some type of  special sauce topping  for spaghetti, only to find we had bought ketchup and two packages of mayonnaise.  Go figure, not sure what type of meal this combination makes. Maybe if we could read the Russian it would give us directions. This answers why our exchange student loved mayonnaise on her pasta and pizza.    Anyway, back ti the store, Monique was in front of a bunch of stuffed frozen pasta like things, desperately wanting something with protein (which at this point we have very little of in our diet) and the older checkout lady was trying genuinely to understand and work with Monique.  Monique tried her Russian book, charades, morris code and hand signals all in an attempt to communicate but with no avail.  Finely, the lady found a clerk with some English comprehension.  Monique started over with her and somehow the lady understood we wanted to know what was inside.  The new lady, after trying to communicate for awhile, gave up and put two finger to her forehead representing horns and said  "moo moo".  That struck everyone as funny and all three clerks and us started laughing.  We ended up purchasing a couple pounds of the moo moo stuff even though we still did not know if "moo moo" meant cheese or  meat.  In the process though, we broke through the language barrier and moo moo gets a good laugh every time we come back and we always get good service.      Well, enough of that, all of this does help me to understand and appreciate the stress and fear that our new ones will have to endure as they learn our language, culture and environment and realize that smiling and laughter are okay!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today starts with a rush and flurry of activity...

Today started with a rush of last minute packing and a long trip to Daniels town he is at camp in.  Not exactly sure how far away it is but I would guess close to 300 km. away.  Our thought process was to be close enough to him to stop having to use taxi and give him the moral support he might need from us.  2.5 hours later we arrive in a small wooded town were people vacation.  It's a four day weekend and there is not much choice for rooms here that are reasonable.  We are dropped off at Daniels camp and left to defend for ourselves as Nadia checks out our options for places to stay.  The camp is laughable  and disturbing all at the same time.  It reminds me of a cross between a rundown ancient amusement park and a concentration camp set in a thick forest surrounded by concrete walls and a guard at the entrance.  We try our best to communicate with Daniel and it is obvious to us the challenge and frustrations all of us are and will have with our language barriers.  No one speaks English except a few words by a teenager who seems a little  on the "crazy" side. He latched onto us and followed along for about 15 minutes.  He is obviously a bad influence and tries to communicate with us.  He knows we are American and we understand  words like cigarets, guns, money and some rap songs.  I finally tell him to leave but he leaves an impression on us that our presence at this camp is not going to be the best for Bogdan.  He says things to Bogdan that seem to disturb him and whispers things in his ear.  ("Hello!  We don't understand you when you speak loudly!!!" )  We already get the impression that the gifts we have been giving to him have been generally taken from him by other kids or adults.  Its very frustrating to tell him we will see him in ten days but we believe it's for his best interest not to have his new American parents their drawing constant attention to him and our American ways and preconceived stereo types.  We leave very frustrated but at peace that this is best for him.
         One of the most frustrating things here is you almost always feel your not getting the whole truth to anything.  The hardest phrase to learn here in Ukraine is "everything is fine" because it's always a very long conversation between your interpreter and someone else and the answer to your curious question of what was said.  I also feel like everyone's got their hands in my American wallet trying to get a piece of the action.  Which with this American you need to scrape the pockets. ;)
           We stop to see Lydia on the way home.  The usual hugs and time spent occur but this was an unplanned stop so we literally are not prepared with activities.  Mama has some pens and index cards in her purse so she begins to  draw her a stick picture of a home and of every member of the family including them.  She enjoyed it and understood she was apart of a big family.  It got funny when we started drawing pictures of each other.  Mama drew a stick picture of my head with no hair and as Lydia was watching, Monique began to put tiny stubs of hair on my head.  For whatever reason this struck her funny and she  started laughing and laughing it was so cute to watch her uncontrolled laughter.  Then she began to draw pictures for mama and papa.  They were all happy ones with sun, flowers, houses,trees and hearts.  Of course, we were analyzing them to find any clue of disturbing images but no such thing seem to show but who knows I'm no doctor.  
       Were heading back now to Donetsk to return to our old apartment.  It seems the best option is to hunker down there for the next 10 plus days and  not take taxis anywhere to conserve on our cash.  It would appear we will be in Ukraine for another 2 weeks and not sure if I might have to go home, so it's a good place to catch train back to Kiev and the airport.  
          After 3.5 hours more of driving home, our nerves are shot and our frustration levels have maxed out.  We haul all our gear back to an apartment we hoped never to see again and plop onto the couch exhausted.   It's then Monique has a melt down.  I don't blame her.  The feelings she is expressing are the same as mine but I do my best to reassure her that all is on course and going well, even though I am, not confident in what I am saying.   Long story short, a day later and messages to and from Facebook family and friends, we feel reassured there is nothing to do but relax and wait out the process.  We so appreciate the faith and support of all of you!  You have helped us in so many ways, from your words of encouragement, wisdom, prayers, friendship, humor and love. We thank the Lord for our community of friends!   Just such a non American thing to do to release control of a situation and relax.  

The day of court..

         Monique and I woke from a rough night sleep.  We haven't spoke much about it but she was uncomfortable with pain in her hip and concerns for the safety of her new children  and I woke up a lot with worries of court and financial pressures.  I don't know what it is about the night time but it seems to be the greatest point of attack on us lately.   Worries of the unknown and fear for the safety of your kids.  Funny thing, these two kids we didn't know anything about or worried about three weeks ago,except for a few occasions in which God prompted us into prayer, now occupy a significant amount of our prayer and worries.  Parental rights have kicked in.  
         Nadia has arrived by train this morning and is out shopping for an appropriate outfit for court.  There is a relative calm and quite as all of us are in our own worlds preparing for today's court.  Having no idea as to what will be the outcome,  there is the concern of the unknown. Will it go well, what will the questions be, will there be an unknown surprise or delay?  The last three weeks and a year of preparation hinges on this day or at least that's the way it feels.  We have been squeezed into this week and the last appearance before the court on Friday.  We hope this will be a blessing and the judge just wants to get us done and head off to her weekend.  It's actually quite a blessing we got in so soon.  Nadia told me she was concerned we might of ended up in court the following Friday.  I am very happy about that not happening.  As I  was saying it's mellow here as we are all dressed and watching the clock tick toward 1:30 when our driver will pick us up to go to our much anticipated 3:00 court appearance.  There is a great scene in Chariots of Fire where all these great athletes are in the locker room, having worked most of there life to this moment in time and they all know only one will take the gold.  I imagine that they are thinking of all they have sacrificed to get here,  letting down those who are rooting for them, and I am sure a little fear enters in at times of the what if I fail thoughts.  It's a very surreal and melancholic moment in the movie as there is a winner and many losers.  The real truth is they are all winners, having given it all to obtain greatness, they stand among the greats.  In a moment we will know if the prize will be within our eager and longing arms or still just out of reach.  As so many greats have done  before, we leave our apartment and head to court.  If God be for us, who can be against us.....
         We arrived with a half an hour to spare and like two other times the electricity is out.  We have been escorted out of the building to wait outside.  As I was sitting there in the shade of a tree and enjoying the cooling breeze I realized we were able to wait comfortably outside rather than like others who have had to wait in a cramped dark hallway because of the freezing winter conditions outside.  Finally, while waiting for what seems an eternity and with fear that court will be postponed, the lights come back on and we are escorted into court room.  Our group of four has now grown to eight:   A representative from the orphanage, social worker and two jury members all talking with each other.  This all seems a bit strange to me.  We briefly meet our judge and she stands out like a beautiful  gem set in a scrarched stainless steel setting.  She is in her 30's, upright,  dignified and posses a professional demeanor about herself.  She is a stark contrast to the lime green painted concrete wall, cheap linoleum flooring, old desks, pad less pews and iron bard jail cell on the side of the room.  The entire government building is painted  light royal blue and the concrete path entrance is the worst condition of concrete I have seen yet on an occupied building.  She is properly robbed and wearing her insignias of authority.  We all rise as she enters and sit as directed.  There is no air conditioning and the occasional fly buzzes past us.  Court starts with the usual questions.  What is our name, were do we live, why do we want to adopt, why Ukraine, what do our children think of adoption, how will we integrate our children into America and what do we like to do in our spare time.  She read us our rights and proceeded to read out loud every document in our dossier and all Ukrainian documents associated to our case.  We have seemed to have won her favor from the beginning as well as the two jury members and the occasional smile is directed our way.  Everyone is very pleasant to us.  The whole process seemed to take an hour and a half.  Then we are asked if we have any more questions and they leave for final disscussion on the matter.  When they arrive back we are read another lengthy document with the final results of our favorable acceptance as parents of Daniel and Lydia Green.  We were asked one more time if we still wanted to adopt and I stood and said "I was absolutely positive" with a big smile of thanks and appreciation.  Monique stood and and agreed with me and finished with a "We are anxious to bring them home".  The judge smiled and said something official and it was over.  I turned to Monique smiled, hugged her and we kissed our congratulations to each other.  We still have a ten day waiting period but the battle and rush to complete this adoption before the SDA closing is over!  
        Now we rush to get home and pack for early morning drive to the town Daniel is at camp in.  We need to find a cheap apartment for the next ten days....,

We got our court date!

So things have been repetitive lately but we have had enough happen lately to make an interesting post.  

Today is an absolutely beautiful day.  High of 75 blue skies and puffy little clouds.  If I was to make a stab at it, I would say it will rain in the evening.  We decided today to see Valeriya first and then Bogdan.  One of the big reasons is I am tired of driving all hot a sweaty from
 Bogdans to valeriya's.  I feel I am in a constant state of  feeling dirty, hot and  wet  from hard play, humidity and sweat.  We stop at a market on the way out to pickup balloons and superglue for jeremiah's glasses and walk into the most beautiful clean organized store we have been in yet.   It's hard to explain the feeling of order and logic in the rows of supplies but it felt like heaven to me.  I felt like I was in the Whole Foods of Donesk.  An added bonus, not once did any security guards follow me through the store! Then we hit the checkout and I ended in pergatory not quite hell but not heaven, as we waited and waited for the typical slow as molasses cashier to ring out the ever increasing line.  The cashiers all have a chair to sit on as they ring up the customers( I think they are way to comfortable to care). Also, when making a purchase we must either bring our bags or pay for theirs. We pay for them and use them as trash bags later on.  Oh well nothings ever perfect and  I still love that store and it's half the walk we have been doing.  We still haven't found a good wine that doesn't taste like it could also be used as a bathroom cleaner but we keep trying.  I have always tried to not buy wine based on packaging but to know the grape and region of origin but packaging is all I got here and so it's a little like Russian roolet.  
        So if things progress as they have been, it looks like we will be moving again.  Personally,  I am looking forward to it.  Donetsk is not cheap and the taxi driving is eating up the money quickly.(an expense we didn't count on).  It costs more each day for our taxi than to stay in our expensive apartment)   The reason for the move, is that Bogdan is heading off to summer camp this Friday.  The camp is 60km away from Valeriya and we are hoping there is a train or bus that we can take to see her.  We will be moving close to the camp as we have been told Bogdan might be able to spend whole days with us.  We shall see.  Monique is feeling more at peace today because we finally got a big to-do item done.  We bought the kids their clothes.  We have done a lot of window shopping but either the clothes were over priced or we just were not both happy with the outfit.  Yesterday, we decided that we would buy two outfits we both agreed upon but first we would stop at a second hand store (how Monique even new it was a second store I will never know) after our morning coffee.  We hit the jackpot and for the price of two new outfits we scored jeans, shorts, swimsuits,shirts,dresses and light weight jackets all brand new looking or near brand new.  Our new kids are going to look sharp!  The biggest challenge were shoes for each of them.  Bogdan's shoes piece of cake, Valeriya's required "discussions" if you know what I mean.  We finally compromised on something between combat boots and stiletto heals. Funny thing is after struggling to find her a pair of shoes, we are returning them on Thursday to get a different pair lol.  All in all, we are both happy now with the shoes and clothes we have chosen.  Glad that's over with :)
         We still have no court date and are hoping to hear good news today.  I have heard to many horror stories on court dates or lack of court dates  for me to rest but we keep putting our trust in Gods divine plan.   We pray that His plan allows me to be able to afford to stay the whole length of the stay with Monique and Jeremiah and not need to return home early to work.  
           Let's talk about each of the kids for a bit.  Valeria is all girl but a tom girl at the same time.  She loves all things girly and princess but she is tough and plays hard.  She definitely has a lot of spunk and she has given us clues to our challenges that lie ahead.  Many of the challenges, I believe are based on a need for attention and love.  Nadia told us one day that Valeriya told her she gets frustrated because she  just wants to talk to us.  She loves to talk, talk and talk and we have no idea what she is saying.  It's so frustrating because she looks at us like we should understand and we so want to but we can't.  We desire,  like her to talk about all the things that parents communicate and share with there children.  She is so cute though, one minute she is playing ball games and jungle gym stuff and the next she is wrapping my arm around her and she is hugging my arm.  She loves hugs and kisses.   Some language is universal!  She wants to always look her best around us.  We got here this morning and she was wearing her eye patch and glasses but as soon as she could, she got permission to take them off.  You could just see her happiness at looking her best.  Such worlds apart for each child's language of love...
          Bogdan on the other hand is all all all boy!  He plays hard and when we are done both Jeremiah and I are pooped.  He loves games, wrestling and technology.  He is also very kind and generous.  Any type of food or treat we give him, he will also ask to give to his friends when they pass by.  He seems to me to take on a protective role to some of the children.  He is sometimes quite deep in thought with the cares or concerns of his and maybe our world.

We interrupt out post!  We just got call from Nadia that we got our court date for this Friday at 3pm!!!! What a relief.  God is good!  That means if all goes well, our ten day wait, will end on July 4th.   Our gotcha date will be independence day!  I can almost see the stars and strips waving in the distance.  I understand a lot more how it feels to be an immigrant and the intense joy they must have felt when they saw the statue of liberty in the distance!  What a relief!
           Nice segway, Monique and I truly enjoy Ukraine on the other hand,  if it was not for the intense difficulty with our language barrier.  Language is what makes it so hard for us to integrate into this culture and create relationships.   There is so much diversity in Ukraine and if you really look, you can see the determination of a people striving to be great.  I will add though, there is absolutely nothing nothing like our home in Colorado and the great US of A!!!!!  
          So now we have turned around and headed back to Valeriya's orphanage to get a letter from the director so they don't have to be in court.  Apparently, it's a long drive.  No kidding!!!!  Bogdan is scheduled to go to camp on Friday so it's not clear if he will need to be in court.  He is still at an age where it may not be necessary for him to be there in person.  My guess is after court we will pack our things and on Saturday relocate to the town the camp is in.  We will be working with Nadia to find a residence there.  It's suppose to be a nice resort like area were Ukrainians go to relax.  That sounds very nice to me and it is suppose to be in the forest even better.  So that's about it for now.  I will post you on Saturday from our new location God willing.  We will Facebook how things go at court on Friday!  Thanks for all your love and support and continuing to follow us on this journey.

Sheep dogs

Today back at bagdons orphanage.  I lovingly refer to as hotel Ukraine (you check in but you can't check out) welcome to the hotel Ukraine, such a lovely place, such a lovely space etcetcetc.  We come daily so their lies and seeds of doubt of wether we will come back or not have no power over him.  We are getting fatigued and I am running out of play but every day  we do it again for these little guys.  It's funny to watch but I feel like sheep and our kids are our sheep dogs.  No matter the situation, when other kids are present we somehow end up somewhere else.  Though these kids are kind and share with others,  they are reluctant to share us and we find ourselves in other places away from kids.  Valeria is very jeleous of my attention to other kids and constantly  demands my complete attention as I assume she feels a need to win my love.    Monique and I realize we are in for a lot of work and a long haul but we didn't choose this we were chosen for this!

The battle rages on today!

The battle rages on!  Today we go back to get Bogdan and bring him to hospital and get his check up and health signed off.  It takes an hour and a half and we are back at the orphanage.  Nadia does more business and comes out to say she has more bad news.  The assistant director lady has arranged to have god mother and daughter come and visit.  We later find out that I was the one who gave approval for this visit. Which was not the truth.   Even though he has signed paper and verbally said yes, it is another attempt to have him change his mind.  When they arrive what a battle raged on.  2 hours of heated conversations while Bagdon sat head bowed looking at the ground.  They constantly try to change his mind. You could tell this was wearing him down.  This language barrier is such a pain.  In the states this would not have happened I would have stopped it and removed my son from this onslaught of harassment but instead we stood helplessly and watched as his chin started to quiver and tears roll down his cheek.   Monique Jeremiah and I did have time to pray and do spiritual warfare until we had some peace that victory was ours.  Slowly you could tell things were going better for us.  The god daughter began to soften and realized this was best for Bogdan.  I had showed her on my iPhone, Valeria telling her brother to say yes.  I watched her as she began to melt and be converted.  She began to work on her mother and then we began to show them pictures of family, home and America.  We answered all their questions about our faith and family.   I tell her I value family and appreciate her commitment to him and my children go to college and are given opportunity.  I tell her that we go to church every Sunday and I pray for my family a half hour every day.  Monique and I understand her commitment to the children's mother but she has been lied to and doesn't realize by letting him be adopted by us she is fulfilling her commitment to his mother to protect him.  Then all of a sudden it was done and I think the godmother  left in peace.  It was brutal to say the least!  Nadia said she will never forget us because of how tough our trip has been.  She says she usually gets in and gets out and things go fast.  I can tell she is fighting tooth and nail to get Bogdan out of this orphanage.  I promise her lots of sugar and candy.  That might help but I am not sure. We wait around as it rains, I  play hacky sack with Jeremiah  and wait some more for the orphanage to get the papers finalized and thre directors signature on his release.  My tip for those who follow, STARBURST CANDY ;) you can give them one at a time, their individually  wrapped and easy to pass out.  The young kids love to run up and shake the funny fun American man's hand.  So this time i shack there hands with a starburst hidden in my hand and that was a hit.  Fortunately I had unwrapped two packs and stuffed my pocket because it didn't take long for the game to be discovered and I shook every girl and boys hand as they quickly stick the candy in their pockets and head off to lunch. Little did I know the director was there but I think we were sneaky enough to get away with it.  I think he thought the kids were excited to see me only but I don't really care what he thinks.  I bring smiles and hope by those little pieces of sugar. It's hard to leave today because they have wisked Bogdan away and the last we have seen of him was with the assistant director talking to him with his bat and baseball in hand and sadness and hurt in his face.  We hope to see him but he is not with any of the other children going to lunch and so we get into taxi to see his sister.  The rain is pouring as we get into the car and begin to close the doors and all of a sudden he is standing their smiling, soaked and saying good-bye to us.  We drag him into our tiny car loving on him and giving him hugs and kisses.  Our hearts are renewed and we drive off confident that even though the harassment will continue against him he is staying strong in the face of it all!
      We have seen Valeria again and I will write about it latter but for now its been 15 hours of driving and battling for these guys.  It's raining and lightening more spectacular than any storm I've seen on the front range in Colorado.  Were beyond tired and long for some rest.  All in all it's been another good day.
Ps: we have decided on their American names....

It's June 14th and the battle has been won!

It's June 14th and the battle has been won but the war still rages on!  Bogdan said YES and it is in writing and the Ukraine social worker has it in hand.  What a hard day for bogdan, as he commited to us yesterday,  he had his answer for us and he said yes!  Once  that happened peace fell on him and me!  The weight he was caring just seemed to fall of  him and he became a kid who must have felt freedom.  Oppression is engrained into this place and their keeper has been trying all day to herd him away from us and they did. What they said is not clear but it appears to be more effort to pursuad him to say no.  What a battle we are in.  Nadia did battle for us and she said they keep trying to have him not get adopted by us.  The assistant director absolutely does not want him to leave this place.  When it all came down to the questions,  bogdan answered decisively and wrote his letter.  Once all done mama and papa held back our tears and mama hugged him proudly.  I will always remember a little smile on his face which I interpreted as being proud of himself.  We played more afterwards as Nadia did business.  We left to see Valeria but I am concerned for his safety.  These people don't seem to care for these children but only in there own self interests.  I whisper prayers to God for his safety and leave Him in his care.  
     There is bad news involving one of the social workers leaving on holiday.  I don't know exactly what's going on but it's sounds like we might be here for another two weeks before our court appearance and then the ten day waiting period.  


Today starts like the others....

Today started out just like the others and off we went to see Bogdan and Valeria.  We picked up a little princess purse a cute frilly flowered red one.  It's not the big purse she wants but we will find one later.  Weather is warm and  humid because of the brief rain through out the days.  I like this way better than hot.  We got a nerf like baseball bat and ball and played for a couple of hours intermittent with him taking pictures and us looking at scenery and exploring .  We also brought a little plane that glides either by shooting it from a rubber band sling or by throwing it.  He is all boy and a lot is communicated like boys do with grunts, yells and laughter.  At an appropriate  moment of resting and eating fruit, candy and juice, Nadia starts talking to Bogdan about getting a yes.  We talked for an hour but could not get a yes just I will think about it. He knows it's a good thing and we are good people and will be good parents.  I truly think he knows that but is dealing with lies.  He is a good kid and I see signs of integrity and rightness in him.  He is and will be a good kid.  We just got to get him out of this %#€><*^•?! place and into an environment he can thrive in.   I can honestly say between the four of us we could not do more in our efforts to get him passed his resistance.  I have a lot of respect for his resistance because I know down in his heart and by his reactions that he wants to be our son.  I see his resistance as a sign of integrity and strength of character and will.  Cant wait to develop and mold that strength.    He promised us an answer tomorrow.  As we were leaving,  our driver asked if he could walk Bogdan back to the door and talk with Him  We said yes.  He is known by the children and he pretty much repeated everything we had been saying but sometimes it's important to hear it from someone else.  We were encouraged by his positive reactions to what Bogdan said to him.  He told our driver that he thinks he will say yes.  I really appreciate Vlad (taxi guy) stepping up like that.  Nadia also said the director has warmed up to her and will encourage Bogdan to say yes.  I don't care how it gets done but that it gets done!
           Here police stand off the side of the roads (like our speed traps)  with a white stick with black strips on it.  If they wave the stick at you, you pull over and pay what they want for whatever you have been doing wrong.  While going from one orphanage to the other we were waved at and our taxi guy got out. Naddia explained you have two choices go to court and pay 350 grn and waste  who knows how long waiting or pay 150 grn on the spot and off you go.  He paid and off we went.  We are now driving to see Valeria and I look foward to seeing her run and skip.  As we drive through this truly beautiful country with it's rolling hills, trees and green grass it brings me home and I long to see our snowcapped  Rockies in the distance.  Apparently, just like Colorado the sun will dry up the grass and things will turn brown as the summer progresses .  
     So I interrupt this flow with a couple of thoughts.  Ladies get over your need for a clean white cool porcelain toilet if you plan to come here.  So far, Monique has had to stand and squat over the most horrific out houses with a stench so bad you don't close the door for fear of passing out (no joke).  She has had to do her business in the grass and trees and gotten very familiar with turkish toilets (squatting over hole in floor).  Be prepared with toilet paper in purse  and to pay for the privilege of using a toilet.  Many bathrooms have sinks and soap (bar soap) but no way to dry your hands.  Occasionally there is an electric hand dryer that is ridiculously under powered and you will give up and dry your hands on your ever present pants or with toilet paper.  Jeremiah and I  feel blessed as men because we can take care of business standing up.  Another thing is that food is never hot enough here. It's alway luke warm! I long for hot food and seasoning.  They have salt and pepper but the salt has lost a lot of it's flavor.   I poured so much salt one time on my potatoes it was laughable.  Its dark everywhere and if there are lights on its just the minimum you can get away with.  For instance every apartment we have been in has had a chandelier type light with 6 plus bulbs and never more than two of those light bulbs work.  Many lights just don't work at all.  I suspect they don't even put lights in them.   Hallways are never lit and streets can be very dark but  not necessarily dangerous.  It's just the way it is.  One last thing for now, your shaken up every were you go!  Train rides shake constantly, taxi rides shake you constantly with weaving and pot holes and roads that are never ever ever flat or straight!  After we had taken the train to Donesk and taxi all day visiting our kids the world never stopped moving for us.  You stand still but you feel like your moving up and down constantly because your equal librium is shot.  Now there are exceptions to all these things  but these are pretty common.  
        We just spent 3 hour with Valeria and what a different girl she was today.  We came just as she was walking to have snacks so all she could do was wave at us.  Me being me, I  was not content to sit and behave and so off I went to see her eating.  The babushkas in charge  put up with the silly man sneaking a peak at his little girl.  I went back to get Monique to come and take a look at her eating too but she all of a sudden jumped in surprise as Valeria ran and gave her a big hug from behind.  We gave her gifts and she liked her cute little red princess purse but I almost think she liked the little puzzles we got her more.  We put both of them together and mama combed her hair and put hair clips and head band in her hair. She was shy as usual but enjoyed her time watching Monique, Jeremiah and Nadiah draw pictures.  I don't have skills in the drawing arena so I just watched Valeria, she is precious and I sense she wants to be free from her shyness but doesn't know how.   I wanted to hear the word yes from her even though I knew she would.  Nadia asked her the questions and she said she wanted to be adopted by us and after hearing the word dah (yes) I looked into her eyes and lovingly said spaciba (thank you) to her.  She eventually wanted to play outside so off she went and picked the area and toys.  There were many toys made of steel with at least an eight inch of layered paint all pealing and cracking.  It would seem no one every thought to sand or strip 30 years of paint off.  We played on old jungle gyms and slides and laughed at each other.  She talked constantly to us in ruski and busted out of her shell.  She got a football (soccer ball) and we played ball games for a long time.  She played hard and she at times got bossy with me telling me were to stand and what to do and stop doing silly stuff.  You don't have to know the language to understand these things.  She is a very good girl but she has.... I wasn't going to say it but when Monique said it I said it.  This girl has a lot of piss and vinegar in her or you might say grit!  I told Monique that she needed it to survive through all she has and is going through.  Personally I like seeing that in her because shes  going to need it.  Nadia continues to leave us longer and longer by ourselves with these guys. I am not sure if it's on purpose but I am beginning to see what a challenge we are up against with our language barriers.  I begin to feel a bit of a panic inside and realize how scary this is going to be for these two kiddos in such a strange world and I can easily visualize Valeria having complete melt downs and panic attacks.  I feel the need to escape for awhile and to leave and Monique said she could sense my internal panic and my fight or flight mechanism kicking in.  We got what it takes but today I felt and saw the reality if it all and it was very scary. I felt it the moment I walked into her orphanage.  A part of it is my own fear of lossing her to an unknown decision from Bogdan.  
         It's now eight pm and we are approaching the end of another 12 hour day of driving and visiting and persuading our children.  I am sore, tired , sweaty and long for a shower and to just veg!

I am fatigued today...

I am fatigued today from giving and receiving and love being taken from me.  Being with bogdan this morning was physicly draining.  We played football (soccer) until I couldn't play anymore.  Bogdan is shy, scared and reserved.  I don't know exactly what he is thinking or desiring.  We get the impression he wants to be adopted but there is a feeling that others may be lying to him about adoption by a foreign  family.  We talked, ate snacks, showed our family pictures and gave him the gifts we bought him ( a small car and a firetruck).  We then gave him our camera to shoot pics of friends and his room.  Once that got started kids came out of the woodwork and Jeremiah and I played football til we were told we needed to go which was fortunate because I don't think I can keep up with all these guys.  I am glad  i brought moleskin for the blisters. Monique, meanwhile, was surrounded by girls and later she painted all of there fingers with nail polish.  There is such a great need for love not necessarily in gifts but the kind that gets dirty and sweaty playing with them at there level.  The girls need to know they are beautiful and special and they are needed.  I feel so inadequate for this task and rely on God to give me direction and guidance.  It does help that I am just a big kid at heart but there is so much need.  The goal in this stage is for them to say yes to adoption.  So far I am not sure we have a yes strong enough to last through this process.
      We head off to see Valeria and we are overwhelmed by her longing to be loved by us.  She definitely wants to be apart of our family.  She gingerly gives us hugs but is excited to see us.  Apparently everyone has told her she is special because she has been chosen to be adopted.  We brought her gifts of a doll and a crayon sticker book apparently it's the nicest coloring book she has ever had.  Cost us maybe a dollar US.  So little to make someone so happy.  We played on the floor and took crayons and colored a page together.  Occasionally I would purposely rub her little arm lovingly and her face would brighten up and a smile would spread across her face.  She longs to be special and be considered beautiful.  We played with a 500 piece puzzle that I guess had only 300 which is why I couldn't find very many pieces that fit, at least that's what I tell myself.  Valeria is amazing with puzzles.   She see things differently and puts them together in ways I don't understand but it works perfectly for her.  I dont know how to explain what i see but i am in awe.  She is very smart and it is very obvious.  I have felt loved and in love with her.  She is all girl and loves to dress up and to look at herself in the mirror or in video and I love that about her.  She runs and skips everywhere and is such a pleasure to watch.  I long to fix her weak eye and to take her from this place and to heal her broken heart.  
       Nadia, in a very shrewd moment, decided to ask her if she would want to record something to her brother on my phone.  Valeria said yes but she wanted to go to another room because she was too shy in front of us.  She is so precious to watch on video as she lovingly tells her brother to say yes to being adopted by us because she likes us and wants to be adopted.  I need to have the whole thing interpreted but that is the gist of the video but it was her own words.  I asked if we could see her room and she said yes.  She held our hands and brought us to her room.  It's a cute efficient room with 10 tiny beds all perfectly made and tidy.  Their caretaker told her to make her bed with her freshly cleaned obedding and she quickly did and stood erect at it's side as if for an inspection.  She passed and off we went to look at pictures of her in an album and of her in a play.  Meanwhile a little girl whom at first I thought was a little boy because of her butch hair cut, started showing me pictures of her as well.  I wish I could have taken her and her little brother home as well.  They longed for a father in their lives.  Her younger blond haired brother came up to me and would not let me go.  His arms locked around my neck and his little face rubbed against my unshaven face.   Every kid instantly was fascinated with my bald head and rough face.  Monique thinks it's because men don't visit much and it was strange to them.  It was heart retching then and now to think of it and all it implies.  Before I knew it Monique and I were mauled by little guys and girls all wanting to talk to us and be hugged.  I showed them my phone and wow I could hardly keep my phone in hand as they wanted to see their friends in video format and to look and touch the pictures.  Technology crosses all borders to these guys. I started picking them up two at a time and they laughed and laughed.  Somewhere in this time, a little boy came up to  Valeria and said, "Your man is very strong!" She said, " He is no man, he is my papa!".  If my heart needed any more retching, her comment to the little boy threw  it over the edge and it is forever lost.  I fear her hearts loss if her brother says no and my heart forever will be at a loss as well.  She later left the room and Nadia thinks she was jealous of all the other kids being with us and getting our attention.  She said it is good, like when your dating and you play a little hard to get.
      Donesk is not like Kiev and I don't enjoy it as much.  It doesn't feel the same and I sense danger more here.  I am never bored and there is so much to do.  I feel spread thin as we have to win two kids hearts that live 200 km apart.  When we are done visiting we are hunting for food and gifts they want from us.  12 hour days just visiting and driving between the two.  After securing a yes from Bogdan we will have to visit them every other day because of the taxi fees are killing me.  It is all worth it but I am concerned about running out of money and ending up stuck in Ukraine for ever!

We meet Bogdan and Valeriya today

Shake and bake.....
Here is another long winded post ;). But it's my therapy and way of journaling this event in my life.....
         Today started out with me unable to sleep and getting up at 4am. Had three cups of via Starbucks coffee and worked on yesterday's blog.  Its been a long day.  I am now on upper berths of whats called a business class train car with Jeremiah writing blog.  Business class is basically a car with 4 berths.  Like everything it's a small area but efficient.  It reminds me of  camping as a kid in a volkswagen camper. There is no wifi on this train and  I think it must have been made in the 1950's the conditions are amazing and surreal.   It's laughable the condition of this train.  I often think how American civilization would on the whole,  handle the normal everyday living conditions of the Ukrainian people.      I can tell you what,  lawyers would go crazy in a place like this.  Point in case, the doors on the elevators and the furnicular train should be lovingly called the human guilateen.  I have never seen doors slam so fast and so hard in my life.  In fact,  I was trying to enter our apartment elevator at the last second and the elevator decided no more people allowed. One second longer and my hand would have been waving at me from the floor of the other side.  On the other hand ( no pun intended ) the same door will decide not to close or reopen at all.  Nothing is consistent except the inconsistent in this country.  I digress though, we met Nadiya our facilitator  who will be assisting us in Donesk.  She is a delight and a great travel companion she understands our humor, which is a plus!  We shall see how long she can stand us.  About 430 pm today we received our two referrals for the orphanages we are traveling to.  Grabbed our luggage and heaved them on taxi and through crowded train station.  For those who follow, pack light cause ya going to have to haul it all over the country!  Unless you are a world travelor there is nothing that can prepare you for ukrain it is a landscape of constant change and surprise.  I often feel like I am in a world WWII movie and I am on a mission in a foreign land.  I would say the best prep is to be patient, changeable, curious and willing to risk and make mistakes. Every turn has a surprise and even now the clickity clack of the shake and bake is lulling me to sleep......the night has past and were about an hour from our destination.  I have heard so many stories of this phase in the adoption process of things going wrong that I find myself reserved as well as very anxious.  What will it be like to meet them for the first time and will there be a connection from the beginning or will that happen in time. Will they say yes or will it be no?
          Getting off the train was something else one mass of cars luggage, vans and people people and more people one big mass of us pushing and honking our way out.  
He could only fit 2 bags in back and so one piece got to sit up front and watch the view while the four of us squeezed into the back seat.  Thankfully we are all skinny and this wasn't too uncomfortable.  We found our apartment and again they have a scary elevator but I am getting used to the rediculous small space and take the second one up with the luggage.  The apartment is very nice but a little pricier than we were expecting. We are planning to negotiating or relocate closser to the kids or maybe find something in the country.  Still up in the air, we need to find a map so i can get our bearings. Got taken for 200. American by taxi for all day driving and 120 km but I comfort myself that in America it would have been a lot worse for your own private chauffeur.   The siblings have been split because of age and the fact that bogdan needs to go to school.  The drive is fast and furious but it doesn't bother us in fact I feel quite at peace with this insane driving. We travel through beautiful countrysides and little villages and through towns all showing years lack and disrepair. There are slow signs of merging economic progress but things seem to take a long time.  Funny thing in donesk everyone we buy from is trying to practice there English due to a ver big soccer game this year with lots if international visitors.  One lady said in closing  our transaction: thank you, hello ,goodbye, and your welcome all in one sentence she was very sweet and doing her best to communicate. 
          We met bogdan at his orphanage  and I could not be happier.  He is such a beautiful young man.  He was so scared and never looked at us but in time he relaxed a little.  He started coming alive after seeing pictures and playing with iPhone.  We gave him a football (soccer ball), small car, and starburst candy.   He let Monique put her arm around him and he gave me a real good hand shake which in this country is not something you give easily like Americans do.  By the time we left his breathing was much more normal.  I can tell he is a brave boy even though he was scared.  He loves math and wants to be a fireman.  He also said he likes the grey  Lanos a Ukrainian made car that is everywhere here. my first thought I can afford this car when he starts to drive LOL.  We are coming up to a three day holiday so we are rushing over to see his sister Valeria just in case the holiday delayed us til Tuesday.  It sounds like we are going to be able to see bogdan again on Saturday he is going to be a goalie and he will teach me to play soccer.  We want to buy him some little cars because he likes to collect  them. We are off at 90 mph to see her (no kidding) in tiny little taxi.  
First impressions of orphanage was horror at outside conditions but the second you entered in the place it was  beautiful and full of warmth, color and fun a stark contrast to the orphange bogdan is living in a grey concrete stone cold environment.  Apparently,  as our facilitator said, rich people like to help the cute young kids and not the older ones.  Thus the stark contrast between the two orphanages, makes you think.  We talked for awhile to the directors assistant, nurse and social worker and in short she is healthy with some  minor correctable issues.    She is very shy but such a little princess.  She is all girl and loves to dress up.  We asked her questions, put puzzles together, with and walked outside and played on toys until it began to rain.  She had a beautiful pink dress on and did not want to get it dirty.  She wants juice, cookies,  and a doll.  This took awhile to get out of her but a necessary step for us to show we will do what we say and follow through with our commitments with her.  I am overwhelmed with compassion for these two kids and realize how much God loves and cares for these two.  Enough for him to send us half way around he world to find them and to present ourselves to them as a gift.  All they need to do is say yes and they will become our children.  A familiar sounding story.  A simple yes can change there life and remove them from the awful conditions they will and live in. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SDA appointment done.....

The Internet is spotty at best in our apartment so I am unable to post as we would like.   For what ever reason I cant sleep and I am tired of tossing and turning.  It's about 4 am and I thought I would get up and start journaling.  Yesterday, Valentin meet us at our apartment at 830 am to go to our SDA appointment.  Turns out our appointment was an hour later so we head off to get coffee.   I will say we have been enjoying some of the best espresso drinks I can remember.  Valentine continues to be our historian and guide.  He let's us know that many of the streets we are walking on today were completely demolished in world war 2 which is surprising because some of these buildings look a heck of a lot older than that.  The city has an eclectic look with it's architecture. It looks old and ornate. Many of the buildings are beautiful, even in their various degrees of decay, you can see their unique beauty.   Valentin goes into a brief description of the atrocities of Stalin and Hitlers terror and the close to 50 million who had died in former soviet union  during these horrible years.  The number is mind boggling and he explains that it is roughly the size population of Ukraine today plus an additional 4 million.  The history here is intense and I am amazed at the resiliency of this people.  Valentine, like all other Ukraine citizens, had to serve 2 years in the military when he turned 18 and knows how to speak Russian, Ukraine, English and German.  All of them are challenging languages but Ukraine the most difficult.   He explained that a glass has 7 different ways to describe it and then another 7 was due to the fact that a noun turns plural.   So  there is a potential of 14 ways to say glass in Ukraine.  And many nouns have a male or female noun.  At least this is how I understood him.  
      After coffee we headed back to SDA and we were quickly escorted into a tiny office and asked questions of why we wanted to adopt and a little bit of history of us.  We stumbled through that and then they began to show us children in our age range about 8 different sets of children.  I would like to say that a holy light from heaven shown down on one set of pics but no such luck.  We had to work our way through 3 sets of children and logically take into consideration there history, region, relatives, directors etc.  In fact, in what was probably a very generous  lenience to us they allowed us to leave undecided and talk about it for a half hour longer. Even still an hour and a half goes real quick when you realize that this is a decision that will affect you and all those around you for the rest of your life, and theirs.  Mucho stressful !!!!  I won't go into all the decisions and why they were made but we do feel there was really only one choice after we looked at all of the info presented.  The next hour or so was a huge blur as Valentin rushed us off to find a taxi to some unknown place and again drive crazy around the streets of Kiev .  We eventually realized a document needed to be notarized and we had to promise to keep in touch with the SDA and do paper work until our new potential children turned 18.  The rest of our day was spent sight seeing and pushing our way out into kiev.  We looked at, you guessed it, more churches and old buildings, wondered down ancient cobble stoned roads, browsed vendors selling there goods, and ended up on the shores of the river Dnipro that divides Kiev.  It was like walking in a movie set.  People were friendly and we were able to somehow communicate with them.  We decided to find Monique a more summery and colorful shirt which was entertaining as the three ladies giggled and laughed at us for unknown reasons as Monique tried on shirts and we made our purchase.  Monique now fit in better and was much cooler as she traded her black t shirt for a light blue cotton blouse.  She refuses to buy the 4"+ high heeled dress shoes that most of these ladies wear here.  It is an amazing thing to watch these ladies dressed to the hilt, navigate effortlessly these cobblestones and  ruined street and sidewalks of this city.  Continuing on, we walked along the old stoned boat docks and decided to venture across the river to beaches we saw on the other side.  One of the things I have been using here to judge safety is the people we see in the areas we are traveling.  I personally think human nature is pretty consistent and so when I see young couples with there children, kids out on dates, and nicely dressed couples, to me it indicates it must be a relatively safe environment.  In America, I would be very concerned venturing into areas like these full of decay, ruins and disrepair but here these are very common.  We walked over a large bridge to the best we could tell, an old park area with beaches and venders and if I was to guess a place that poorer people came to relax.  I would say it had a gypsies atmosphere as even the music changed its sound and feel as well as the people.  These were just your average looking people young and old.  After wondering the beaches and forested paths Moniques mothering instinct kicked in and we decided to get the  heck out of Dodge.  Jeremiah and I didn't feel any threats but Monique could sense the immorality and seedy stuff that must go on around and about this area.  So off we headed back into town.  We took the fNicular train up into town at a cost of less than 20 cense each.  The train goes from the banks of the river up to the top of the bluff were the old town resides.  According to Valentin a giant statue of Stalin was to be erected here over looking this beautiful view but WWII started and that ended those plans.  It was here that Valentine called and let us know that he had secured a business class train car for the three of us and our new facilitator who would be traveling with us to Donetsk, the city were our kids are.  We were very happy because it would cost about 80 bucks total for all four of us.  We leave today at 730 pm and arrive sometime in the morning on Friday.  Valentine also said the president has made it official, the move of the SDA to the new ministry and we had 30 days to complete everything or we would have to go home and come back after 2 or 3 months when they reopened.  Please pray that everything goes smoothly as that does not give us much room for delays and the many  unknowns that can come up.  Before ending this long winded blog post, let me describe the children we are adopting.  The boy is 10 years old and the girl 8 years old.  He has brown hair and been described as completely healthy and a good kid.  She has red hair thin and has a lazy or crossed left eye.  She is healthy but will probably need corrective surgery if natural treatment for her eye doesn't work.  We have been told this shouldn't be an issue but time will tell.  Their mother died in 2007 and then the father in 2009, for unknown reasons both died. Their grandmother then raised them till she passed away just last year  They are separated in two orphanages (why? I don't know) and have just become available for adoption.  There are no relatives pursuing them and Monique finds it a comfort that it is possible they were raised in caring homes interrupted  by death.  These children can say no to us if they so choose and it does happen.  Please pray that this next stage goes according to Gods desire and plan for them as well as us.  Jeremiah has been a great travel companion and does an excellent job in assisting me in keeping his mom safe and out of harms way.  I suspect this is and will be a life changing journey for him.   We feel blessed to have him be apart of this adventure.  

Ps:  if your traveling with us via Internet these are some of the sites we have seen or visited in kiev which you can google:
Golden gate
River station 
St. Andrews church
St. Sofias cathedral
Pishokhidnyi bridge
National opera
Central train station 
Funicular train
T.shevchenko university
House of teachers
Mickhaiilv'ky gold domed monastery 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gods plan

In less than two hours we will be at the SDA for our appointment to find our children. I am nervous, but In less than two hours we will be at the SDA for our appointment to find our children. I am nervous, but not too bad, knowing that so many are praying with us. God placed this calling in our heart and soul and it has been faith building to see Him provide and make this possible. Now we are starting the process if knowing the children He has picked out for us. A few weeks back I was stressing, doubting and worrying in prayer. God spoke to me in His still small voice, "I have a plan for you!". Instantly I recognized the verse He was speaking to me threw and looked it up. Jeremiah 29:11-13.  Now, we are going to see our lovely children which He has planned for us. We are trusting Him to clearly reveal them to us.  I am going expectantly. 
Thank you all for covering us with your prayers!  Love, Monique 

Day to in Kiev

Day two: slept til noon.  Ventured out and  exchanged money.  I have no idea what the money clerk said to me or why she was grouchy but she gave me money and that was good enough for me.  Next we ventured into a grocery store.  I think tomorrow we will buy food.  Monique stared a long time at the milk looking  bottles trying to figure out which one might be cream.  She thinks she knows by how thick it looks or else it could be just curdled we will find out soon.  Non the less our via starbucks coffee tastes just fine black.  Next we tried to find some of the tourist spots that Valentin marked on our tourist map.  We found a couple but just one of the ones we set out to see from the start.  This city is amazing and so rich in history.  It would totally help if we knew the language.  We saw the golden gate which I believe was the original entrance to the city as well as numerous other churches and monasteries.  We never got lost and made it back to our apartment to wait for our taxi to meet and go to dinner with Karen Springs.  The taxi drive was an amazing adventure and I took Matts advice to always pay in advance.  What a ride, fast lots of lane changes, honking and braking!  Some of the largest and busiest car intersections I have ever seen with 6 lanes and three major streets entering it and NO street lights ! Still I would rather drive in a taxi then ride our elevator!  Taxi driver got lost but eventually we met up with Karen.  As everyone who has meet Karen will confirm, she is a special person.  We took the subway and ate at a nice buffet style restaurant so we could try some local cuisine.  We enjoyed it all and the conversations with Karen were fun and enlightening.  We hope we will be able to see her again soon!  This city is amazing and captivating with all of it's history, culture and unknowns.  I can't wait to get out and do more exploring and to see who yells at me next as I learn to navigate this rich and complex landscape.  Our SDA appointment is at 9 am tomorrow.  We need your prayers for guidance as we choose our two new children.  Thanks for your ongoing support and prayers.  I will try to post some pics on our blog tomorrow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

We have arrived.

We arrived safely via plane from london into Kiev at 3:00 pm  today.  After stumbling through customs and being yelled at only once, we met Valentin.  We followed him outside after a quick cordial greeting.  Outside we again got yelled at but found car.  Valentin quickly assessed that car was too small for all of us so he and i took off leaving Monique and Jeremiah with his wife who drove them to our apartment. I on the other hand had no clue that i would be getting to apartment by local van, train and by foot.  Walking as fast as I could I was amerced in the local transit system.  It seemed just to get to the train we traveled a half mile underground via escalators (what an experience)  and then we hoped on our crowded old train. Valentin continued to amerce me with token buying, money changing, buying water and ordering dinner at local restaurant. When we finally got to our destination  Jeremiah and I  hauled our 200 plus pounds of luggage up to our apartment on the seventh floor in the tiniest scariest elevator I have ever been in!  They insisted we shove 150 lbs of luggage, Jeremiah and myself into a 3.5 x4 dark wood paneled  space called an elevator.   The door shut and we hit the #7 button and everything went pitch black and nothing happened. Sad to say two cuss word slipped out of my mouth and my fear of tight spaces kicked in.  I remained as calm as i could after screaming and trying to scratch my way through steel and wood (just kidding but that's what i was doing inside).  Finally our facilitator opened the door, which seemed to take an eternity and then before i could object he closed our door again and with my finger shackingly  hovering over the number 7 button we sqeeked our way up 7 flights to our apartment.  I have yet to go back into that elevator and instead i have ran down seven flights of stairs and climbed up seven flights after dinner.  I think I might try it again tomorrow though.   We have a beautiful view of Kiev from our downtown apartment.  We have a nice apartment with toilet shower dish washer clothes washer kitchen living room etc ceilings are at least 12 feet tall.  We are paying about $75 US dollar.   The accommodations are very modest for American standards but its comfortable.  I am a little nervous that we have to have a steel door to lock then heavy wood door as well for our entrance and we have been told we must always have it locked. We are in awe at were we are and of the unknown.  Mostly we feel in a dream and a surreal one at that (could be jet lag though)  We have a busy schedule but will keep you all posted as the time permits.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going blind?

For those who have been following our story, you already know we do not have children picked out before we go and that we will be choosing from pictures presented to us from the SDA. Through very interesting and wonderful series of events we may be going for 2 known children. We are still in the very early stages and know very little. Please pray for us and those involved as we begin to pursue these children. Pray that God will make our paths straight and we will know his will. Thanks to all of you who hold us up in your prayers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Long and winding road

I can easily relate to the Jews as they wandered around the wilderness for 40 years. Seeing miracles and knowing the call on their lives and yet doubting He will come through this time. I lost count of the days I wake up stressing and wondering will He provide. When I am not stressing I am doubting and I begin to wondering what are we doing and this is going to be tough and uncomfortable and I like my life the way it is (it was better in Egypt). Last night I was praying for some encouragement and I got it in an email this morning from "Ransomed Hearts":
Venturing Forth
It's better to stay in the safety of the camp than venture forth on a wing and a prayer. Who knows what dangers lie ahead? This was the counsel of the ten faithless spies sent in to have a look at the Promised Land when the Jews came out of Egypt. Only two of the twelve, Joshua and Caleb, saw things differently. Their hearts were captured by a vision of what might be and they urged the people to press on. But their voices were drowned by the fears of the other ten spies and Israel wandered for another forty years. Without the anticipation of better things ahead, we will have no heart for the journey.

One of the most poisonous of all Satan's whispers is simply, "Things will never change." That lie kills expectation, trapping our heart forever in the present. To keep desire alive and flourishing, we must renew our vision for what lies ahead. Things will not always be like this. Jesus has promised to "make all things new." Eye has not seen, ear has not heard all that God has in store for his lovers, which does not mean "we have no clue so don't even try to imagine," but rather, you cannot outdream God. Desire is kept alive by imagination, the antidote to resignation. We will need imagination, which is to say, we will need hope.

Julia Gatta describes impatience, discouragement, and despair as the "noonday demons" most apt to beset the seasoned traveler. As the road grows long we grow weary; impatience and discouragement tempt us to forsake the way for some easier path. These shortcuts never work, and the guilt we feel for having chosen them only compounds our feelings of despair.