Monday, November 30, 2009

Daily Visits to the Orphanage...

We're settling into a new routine here in Kotovsk. Our days start with something simple to eat... a banana, cup of coffee, piece of bread or poppy seed kuchen and then Debbie goes down to a mini-lounge area to have some quiet time by herself,allowing Pat time to pray alone in our small room. Afterwards, we reconvene and share any insights we've gleaned from prayer and/or the Bible. We pray for our time at the orphanage and our boys back home, etc... and then Yuri, the taxi driver picks us up for our daily visit with Sasha and Olee. Our visits are different every single time... but always sweet and blessed with laughter and learning. We start with "skola" (school) and bring picture books and teach some vocabulary and practice what we learn... "stand up" and "sit down." Today we introduced... happy, sad, hug and kiss! We've played card games, done puzzles, take pictures, play hide-and-seek, done simple math equations, given gifts and smiled till our cheeks ache! We've met and filmed and photographed many of their friends and have fallen in love with two of Sasha's girlfriends... both named Tonya. Today we started praying for "forever families" for these two cuties and we were both overcome with tears and deep emotion at the thought! Life is good!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Jordan!

Several weeks ago... when it became apparent that your parent's would not be home for your birthday or Jesse's birthday, you graciously released us from worrying about gifts... You told us that all you wanted for your birthday was for two orphan girls to become your sisters. Well, dear son it looks like God is granting the desire of your heart!

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart!" - Psalm 37: 3-4

Have a blessed, happy, Sabbath holy BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Papa & Mama


Saturday, November 28, 2009

There's Something You Don't Know...

The girls have a 17 year old brother! Yes, we were encouraged to keep that "under wraps" until we knew more. We wouldn't know more until we travelled to the girls orphanage. We were told that he was in a trade school... that is all. The day we met the girls, the orphanage director told Zhenya that their brother had been in that same orphanage and then "graduated" to a trade school. When he was at the orphanage, he didn't pay too much attention to his sisters and since he's left he has not been back to visit them. What's worse, we found out that he had run away from two different trade schools and they did not know where he was! That was not good for Sasha and "O-lee" and the Work Family, it was very important to us and to the process that we find the brother and he agreed to "release" his sisters to be adopted. Gulp, another obstacle we needed God's help to break down! The last they knew, the brother had been in a trade school 4 hours south of Kotovsk. Zhenya arranged for a long distance taxi to take us there. We left at 6:30 AM, Thanksgiving morning, not knowing who we'd find or what would happen! We had an 11:00 AM appt. with an official who had organized a search for the brother. They found him... he was working on a farm out in the country! We drove out FAR into the country... many windy dirt roads, criss-crossing without signs or signals anywhere. I asked Zhenya and Yuri (the taxi driver) how did they know where to go? He said, "Ukrainian instinct!" Plus, they stopped and asked 3 "babushka's" for directions. We ended up at the mayors office of a small village. She knew of the farm and of the boy. Debbie had to get out of the taxi and a worker drove with the men to show them where the farm was located. He was working as a shepherd on a farm! Zhenya had a LONG talk with him. He was willing to sign a release for his sisters to be adopted. He had no problems doing that. Zhenya gave him our home address and told him that we were interested in cooresponding with him if he was interested in that, that he was welcome to visit and we asked for HIS address. He said that he didn't have a permanent address, but when he did, he'd give it to us. Zhenya gave him his cell phone number and told him he'd talk to the Inspector and see if he could get him back into the trade school. The boy said he'd try it again and STAY this time. Our hope and prayer is that with the news of his sisters adoption, another crack at trade school, knowing that there's an American family open to communicate with HIM, he will have a new catalyst to set goals and have something to aim for.

Armed with the brothers release form we headed back to the town where the children were from. We did some more paperwork and were on our way back to Kotovsk when Zhenya called the SDA and read them the paperwork over the phone. They said it wouldn't work because it didn't have the word "separation" on it! So we turned around and went back to town. Zhenya went to the supervisor and she went to the regional supervisor. The regional supervisor said, NO! We must adopt all three! But, Zhenya reminded her that because the boy ran away from trade school there was no one to prepare his documents. Plus, he did not want to be adopted. SOooo, not taking NO for an answer, he appealed to the Asst. Mayor. He agreed with Zhenya and got him into the mayor's office. The mayor agreed to sign a form granting a separation. So they formed a committee of four and wrote up a document and all signed it. After hours of waiting, walking and wondering Pat, Yuri and I were amazed to hear the tensions and challenges that Zhenya had just faced. We arrived back "home" 16 hours later, worn out yet THANKFUL for all that we were able to accomplish that day. (Besides it being Thanksgiving Day back in the USA, it was Zhenya's 5th anniversary and Yuri's 21st anniversary. It was a day we will never forget! Been having alot of those lately!)


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Introducing... Alexandra Faith & Olya Isabella!!

There are no words... but we will try! Every tear, financial set-back or fear was washed away in a tidal wave of love and joy! God's presence was there from start to finish... it was 45 minutes of bliss! We greeted them with hugs and told them they were beautiful! Then we were ushered to a table and the girls sat in the middle and Pat sat on one end by Alexandra (nickname "Sasha") and Debbie sat next to Olya (pronounced Ohl-ya). We told them that we'd like them to meet our family and see our home back in the United States. Be began by introducing our sons and then showed them all the rooms of our house, including the room that may become THEIR BEDROOM!) Then we asked them about their favorite colors, foods, sports, etc... They love TOMATOES! Pat is psyched! Then we gave them dolls, a brown haired Bella doll for Sasha and a blonde, blue-eyed doll for Olya... blue eyes like her! We had fun unwrapping the packages and playing with each accessory. They braided and brushed the dolls hair and then Debbie and Sasha and Bella all took turns rocking the dolls! Too precious! Debbie started to clean up scraps from the presents and then Sasha insisted that SHE CLEAN UP! Beyond...beyond! The girls really seem to love/like each other, so that is good. Zhenya said that the girls knew right away they wanted to be adopted by us and today they called us Mama and Papa and signed paperwork testifying that they say, YES!

Final note to our sons - Tim I saw Olya, smile and point to your picture and giggle and say something to Sasha! Justin... all I can say is Makayla and Maggie need to scoot over! Jordan - you will never be the same! Jesse - hey buddy your gonna be a BIG brother and have a schoolmate cuz Sasha is in the 6th grade!

Thanks for all of your prayers back home! AND THANK YOU JESUS!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Two angels...

Every morning for the last three weeks, we've looked out our bedroom window, here in Kiev and saw these two angels. I thought that was soo sweet of the Lord to provide a fourth floor apartment with these cherabim's right outside our window. (I know that we're not adopting angels but, it was still fun to see these 2 littles statues.)
We leave tonite on the 10 PM train. We will arrive in Kotovsk at 4:00 AM. We have an appointment with the inspector at 8 AM. Then we will go to the orphanage and meet the girls! If they like us, then it is a GO and Zhenya will start all of the paperwork necessary to bring them home... birth certificates, court date, visa's, passports, etc... Of course we will like them... we already love them!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Founding of Kiev

The name Kiev comes from a medieval legend about three brothers, Kie, Shchek and Khoriv, and their sister Lebid. By tradition they founded the city in the 5th century A.D. and in May 1982 the 1,500th anniversary of Kiev was celebrated. It was named Kiev in honor of the oldest brother, King Kie (Kyi, pronounced kiy, in Ukrainian). According to church tradition, the founding of a great city on that location had been predicted by the patron saint of Ukraine, Saint Andrew the Apostle, after he visited this land about 50 A.D. We found out that "Kiev" was the spelling used by all Ukrainian writers into the nineteenth century and by Taras Shevchenko, the greatest of Ukrainian poets and writers. (Also spelled, "Kyiv")

Today we went to say goodbye to Kie, Shchek, Khoriv and Lebid!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Mr. Robata learning Russian!

Yes... "robata" means WORK in Russian. So here we have Pat robatically holding his Russian primer... as he gets ready to work at his Russian! (Groan!)

Here are a few Russian vocabulary words he'd like to share...

Dad = papa, Mom = mama, Brother = brat, Sister = sestra, Grandma = ba-bush-ka,

Grandpa = dee-ye-dush-ka, Good job = bravo!, Cat = kot, Dog = sa-ba-ka, Milk = ma-la-ka,

Sunshine = sol-nish-ka

GOOD NEWS! The SDA & orphanages, schools & Universities all open Monday, November 23rd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Open the Orphanages!

Tomorrow the government votes about opening the schools, SDA and orphanages back up! Yes, it is clearly time to be up and running again. Our "enforced vacation" (as Pat's friend Horatio so aptly describes it) is coming to an end...the next phase of the adventure is about to begin... we hope and pray... soon. If all goes well... we will travel to the city of Kotovsk and visit the girls, early next week. For the weekend we will enjoy the sights of our beloved Kiev a little bit longer. (This city takes architecture to a whole new height!)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mr. Yushchenko... Tear Down this Wall!

While we've been here in the Ukraine, the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall's demise. What a monumental victory that was! In this picture we have Pat trying to push open a set of imposing gates... huge archways, black iron fences are everywhere here in Kiev.

We are still in a holding pattern. The doors of the orphanages are scheduled to open back up on November 23rd. Once the SDA opens back up, they'll issue us our paperwork and we will head toward Kotovsk, near the border of Moldova. We recently read online that Ukraine took the strongest actions against the swine flu of any European country, including closing of 4 of their borders.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ukraine's National Flower...

I've been seeing sunflowers everywhere I go! In our first flat, we had a sunflower bedspread. Sunflowers are frequently found in their folk art. This year, before I traveled to the Ukraine, I started having a special attraction to sunflowers. It may sound funny to you... but they INSPIRE ME! Why? Well... every morning the sunflower is looking to the east, waiting for the sun to rise. It follows the sun across the sky all day long. It makes me think of the scripture in Hebrews 12 that reads..."fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." So in a very real way... I too want to be the Lord's SONflower, riveting my attention on HIM. (Of course I need lots of reminders to get my focus back on the Lord, so these constant "sunflower sightings" have been helpful!) When I found out that "sunflowers" were this nation's national flower I was thrilled!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Is there a Dr. in the "HOUSE?"

Who remembers Dr. Gregory House, from TV series, House MD? The series debuted in 2004 and featured Dr. House, an arrogant, aloof medical genius/forensic specialist who was partly modeled after Sherlock Holmes. The actor's name is Hugh Laurie and he hails from... none other than... the UKRAINE! Yes, and many souvenir booth's offer bags and shirts with his face printed on the front. That's OK... we'll pass. (Season #1 just arrived to the Ukraine!)

Today we walked to a different church called St. Andrews. It is right next to the SDA. As you can see, the church is amazing in it's design and intricacies! (See side bar.) It is considered a baroque church and was built between 1747 -1754.

The location of the church is attributed to the place where the Apostle Andrew arrived and erected a cross and prophecied the future of a great Christian city. At that time the region was barely inhabited. Many believe his prediction became true because the city of Kiev eventually became the center of Eastern Orthodox faith.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Veteran's Day Update...

Pat & Debbie... just before their appointment at the SDA

Today we had our second appointment to look at children's files at the State Department of Adoption (SDA). They spent even more time with us then last time and let Zhenya go through several binders with us. So many children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. Many younger children are being taken into foster homes, just like in the USA. We saw several girls that did not have any siblings and seemed very precious, but we held firm in wanting siblings. So after considerable deliberation we chose, two sisters... who recently turned 9 years and 12 years of age! We are quite sure they are small for their ages, so they'll seem and look more like 8 and 11 years old. So it was a BIG DAY. We feel like "veteran's..." veteran's in a "war" fighting to adopt two children! "Forward! Halt! Onward... Kneel & pray... Fight the good fight of Faith!"
And, all of you back home are lifting our arms and it all means alot to us both!

Good News! *There has been some news reports that the flu epidemic is lessening! Keep praying for God's mercy of healing to be poured out upon this country and that the political officials will reverse the ban and open the SDA and all the orphanages SOON! Yes and Amen! We cannot go and visit these two sisters until the ban is lifted! *Also, another praise report... Our church took up a generous collection of money to help us during this time. What a blessing because our trip is likely going to be weeks longer than anticipated. And, that is more time off without pay. SOooo, thanks to Covenant of Grace Church!


Language learning...

Guess what these signs mean?

Pat is giving himself to studying the language... especially the written language. It helps as we walk about the city, the signs are starting to make more sense... since he's "cracked the code." SOooo, here's your first lesson:

Some Ukrainian consonants are the same as ours! Yeah! That's easy! For example: Our M, T and K are the same as theirs. Our "A, E, I and O" vowels are the same as theirs. BUT, they have some letters that look like our letters but "SAY" something different... their capital "B" says, "v" or "w" and their "P" says, "rrr." Plus, you have to memorize some completely new letters... like a circle with a line running thru the centor of the circle (see above) and that says, "f."

Question: Taking what you've learned so far... guess which sign reads, "Diplomat" and which one reads, "Cafe Bar??" Have fun!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bridal Brigade!

The sun broke thru today so we decided to go for a walk to see St. Sophia's and St. Michael's Monastery of the Golden Domes. Little did we know that November 8th was "THE" day to get married... We saw at least 6 brides! It was mostly sunny and upper 50's... so a brisk and pleasant day to get married! (This pretty area is only a 5 minute walk from our flat in Kiev.)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Culture notes...

Let's start by discussing food! Don't we all love that subject? Bread is big (and cheap!) We can walk to the market and get a loaf of fresh bread for 50 cents and an 8 in. roll of poppy seed pastry for 75 cents. The national soup is "BORSCH" made out of beets and beans, cabbage, onion and served with a small scoop of sour cream. We really like it! Not a lot of ice for drinks. Pierogies (called varenyky) can be filled with everything from mushrooms to cherries.

Their calendar starts on Monday and the two days off per week are Thursday and Sunday.

The hot water is on the right side of the spigot and they wear their wedding bands on the right hand. I guess they're right and we're wrong!

Winter dress: Fancy coats with big fur collars and knee high boots are a FASHION must for the women. There are so many fancy boot shops it's hard to imagine they keep them all busy. The men wear lots of black or navy... and you could sum up the men's style with words such as "functional" and "simple."

Transportation: Lots of electric cable cars and cars from all over the world. Pat loves seeing so many variety of cars... Ukrainian, Russian, Czech, Romanian and lots of KIA'S! (boys... Dad got footage of a Kia Rio TAXI... front and back bumpers intact.) But, by far the most popular method of getting from point A to point B is walkin'!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stranger than Fiction...

The whirlwind hit into a brick wall!! Please pray with us! Please pray for us!
As you know, we traveled by train all nite last nite to meet the children. But, when we got
to Odessa the mayor had shut down the city. No schools, no national adoption, no international
adoptions. The FLU has hit the Ukraine and they are taking drastic measures! The State Dept.
of Adoption has stopped giving referrals to families seeking adoption until the threat of flu has
passed. The inspector of Odessa said, "No appointments at the orphanages!" Zhenya talked to the orphanage director and the regional supervisor. Found out that the children were in different orphanages.

We had been told they were in the same orphanage and that their health was good.
Only to find when we got there that the boy was hospitalized, and had more serious health
problems than we were lead to believe. The day before Zhenya was having great difficulty
contacting the orphanage director. (There are many good orphanages in the Ukraine but this
one seems not to be one of them. And, their files were not accurate. The 3 of us went back to our apartment and talked and talked and tried to discern what to do next. (Was this an obstacle to overcome or a door closing in front of us??)

We felt that God was blocking/stopping this particular referral. There were many blocks from many angles.

SOOOooo, where does that leave us? We are going to officially refuse that referral. We've travelled back to Kiev on bus. And, have decided to stay for another appt. next week, and look at new children's files. At that time we will see if the flu epidemic has settled at all. We need to be prepared to travel home at the end of next week... without any children. And, go back to the Ukraine to finish the process when the epidemic has settled down. We are choosing
to view this as a sovereignly closed door and that there are other children meant for us.


Monday, November 2, 2009

The Appointment

Today we met with Zhenya and a psychologist that works for the State Dept
of Adoption. It was surreal... a meeting we have imagined many times. The
worker did not speak english. We were shown or discussed 3 or 4 sister sets
and several brother/sister sets of siblings that were available for adoption.
But, we were most drawn to a brother/sister combination. They look sweet,
truly orphaned and they are from down in southern Ukraine, near the sea!
We will take a train ride starting tonite at 9 PM. (Sleep is overrated, right!?)
We will meet them tomorrow, if all goes well. Please pray for THEM, as they
may refuse us and that has happened before. The sister just turned 11, her
brother is 7 yrs old.

(I'm at the post office right now. Connectivity can be an issue. Can't gaurantee
how often I can update the blog. Please Pray for that as well. I love blogging
and letting you all share this adventure with us!)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Walking tour of Kiev!

Today Elana gave us a 4.5 hour walking tour of Kiev. The architecture is amazing! Elana is a recent college grad. We really enjoyed our time with her. She was a big help getting around and interpreting for us. At one point we visited an underground mall and had some great coffee and chatted about her family and our family. When we showed Elana some pictures of our boys she thought they were really handsome. She said that there is an Ukrainian costume that says that if a husband and wife truly love each then their children will be good looking. Then she said, "You, Patrick & Deborah must REALLY love each other alot!" What a hoot!