Its after midnight here and the constant tapping of rainwater on the tin overhang outside our apartment window has played the same melody all day. I just finished a Skype phone call with my friend Cindy and it was good to hear her voice from the other side of the world. Its been a rather slow day. I slept until 8 this morning and felt better after a full night's sleep in a bed. Robert, however, came down with a stomach bug and has felt lousy all day. Our appointment at the notary wasn't until 2pm and visiting hours at the orphanage are from 2-5, so we had plenty of time to take things easy. We hung out at the apartment and I decided to have cereal for breakfast since Robert wasn't feeling well enough to venture out. We had picked up some basic food staples at the grocery store with Sean last night. I cracked open my HoneyNut Cheerios (thank goodnes for the little bee or I wouldn't have recognized the box) and proceeded to pour milk on them. The milk here is very different from the milk at home. I got the 2.5 % and when I poured it, it was as thick as cream. I've heard that the milk is much richer here, but didn't anticipate that. Too much of a wimp to try it, I poured it out. I curled up at the foot of the bed and ate dry cereal out of the box while I surfed the satellite tv selections. Now, those of you who've been here already, can just imagine my shock of being exposed to that with my Cheerios. There are only a handful of English speaking news channels available. Other than that, the choices fall between Russian gangster rap videos, A-Team reruns with French dubbing, Arab news stations, and "adult" entertainment. So I flipped off the tv and got online to surf the blogs I frequent and read my email.
Natasha showed up at one and flipped through our family album and chatted until it was time to go. We walked the 10 blocks to the notary and planted ourselves in the chairs outside of the office. One of the things we had to do was fill out paperwork that identified Kristina's new legal name. She did not have a middle name so we needed to decide on one. In the back of my mind, I always knew what it would be. We wrote out her new name "Kristina Hope Landrum" for the notary to put on all the paperwork. It just seemed fitting.
Our plan was to have the papers drawn up and notarized and then head over to the orphanage to spend some time with Kristina. Robert was still feeling awful, but was determined to go. He brought a bunch of bananas and a package of candy from the grocery store to share with the children. As many of you will learn, Ukrainian time lines and American time lines don't always , well, line up. What I thought would be a 30 minute pitstop turned out to be a two and a half hour version of musical chairs. I begrudgingly called missionary Lela Steele (originally from Ocala, Florida) at the orphanage and asked her to let Kristina know we weren't going to make it. We trudged back to the apartment in the steady drizzle and settled in. Kim B. in Kentucky emailed me this verse today:
These things won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day. - Habakkuk 2:3
Robert spent the rest of the day resting in the apartment and I decided to venture out for dinner alone since I hadn't eaten since my psychologically scarring Cherrios fiasco. I took my bright red umbrella and wandered a few blocks down to a pizza place we had passed on the way to the notary. Women dressed in fur lined jackets hurried past me to escape the cold that is settling over Odessa. It seems like many of the women here wear the same hauntingly sweet purfume that lingers just to remind you that beauty has passed. The people here are exquisite. I had to wrestle with the practicality of watching where I stepped to avoid the pools of gathering rain water among the cobblestones, verses the visual feast of the residents of Odessa. To make a long story short, I ended up with wet feet.
Robert, who has never traveled out of the country, was immediately smitten with Ukraine. He claims he has never seen such beautiful people, stunning architecture, or eaten such amazing food in all his life. He tells me he will move here and experience this everyday. He practices the four Russian words (Da, nyet, spa-ce-ba [thank you], dask-ve-danya [goodbye]) he knows on every poor Ukrainian he meets until we have to teach him a new word so he won't be mistaken for a Ukrainian kid who rides the short bus.
I made it to the pizza resturant and was able to communicate with the waiter what I wanted to order and that it was to go. It was a combination of pointing and charades, but it did the job. He tied a neat little yellow ribbon around my small pizza box and I strolled the path home, not caring that the pizza grew colder as I lingered to look in a shop window or listen to music coming from a club. At one corner I paused to wait for the light to change when two Ukrainian women struck up a conversation with me. When I told them that I did not speak Russian, they looked surprised. Am I starting to blend in? Doubtful, but it sure would be an honor to be part of this beautiful city. At least I will be the mother of a Ukrainian girl.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. - Psalm 62:5