Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kristina Hope

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

How appropriate.

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


Lisa, Chris & Lucas said...


The milk thing can be challenging! They do have "normal" milk (not thick). The kind we bought came in the bags, not the carton but it is difficult to decipher which is milk, liquid yogurt, or (as we were told) sour milk (apparently that is used for upset stomach...yeah...didn't try that one). Keep trying...those honey nut cheerios are comfort food (we probably ate 4 boxes). It sounds like you are enjoying your time. There is beauty everywhere. I loved the pictures of Kyiv. It was a thrill to remember standing in the same spots just 2 short months ago.


Melissa E. said...

Poor Robert...but it was his idea to experience the Ukrainian fare, right?!! Hope he's feeling better very soon.

Tami said...

Oh I hope Robert is feeling better soon!
I have to tell you, I am really enjoying your description of Odessa. I can almost imagine walking with you, darting around mud puddles in our too new boots, listening to disco-tech music blaring out of the clubs and pouring kefur on our cereal. I may not be physically there with you, but you're writing is definitely letting me experience it!

Jim H. said...

I wish I was there with you guys! But I don't miss the rainwater tapping on the metal roof - it drove us crazy too!! About the milk, look for the blue checkered kind that comes in a pouch. Have you discovered the hotdog stand on Deribosovskaya yet? Those wraps they sell on the street are awesome too. It is so much fun sending comments to you for a change! Robert- great job with your Russian speaking! You'll have the alpabet down in no time I'm sure. Have a blast in Odessa, and make sure to hi to Alexi and Vitaly, the parking lot attendants.

Kathy and Matt said...

It sounds like you are adapting well. Hope Robert is feeling better soon. Thanks for providing the details of your experience. We can't wait to be in the same part of our journey.

Nataliya said...

See, I told you - you look better than locals, especially in the new boots :) Of course you blend in!

I'm so glad you like Odessa and its people! I can't wait to go back to the city where I grew up!

I hope Robert'll feel better tomorrow, it takes time to get used to a different food.

Kristina Hope Landrum sounds awesome, I just love her new middle name!

Zack, Jenn and William said...

What a beautiful middle name for Kristina! Glad things are going well for you and that you are fitting in so well :)

I was out of town all week, so it was so nice to be able to catch up this morning and read about your travels so far.

Hope Robert feels better soon!!

Pam DeFrees said...

We are rejoicing with you! I love that you chose "Hope" for her middle name. It's perfect. It's mine and my daughter's middle name too, BUT...I think it's even MORE fitting for Kristina!
Your descriptions of Odessa make me homesick! And you mentioned Lela, who I have been e-mailing every day this week for prayer for a friend of mine. Lela is a strong prayer warrier!
The pizza at the mall downtown is the BEST pizza ever! We ate it almost every day unless we ate a quick lunch at McDonalds when were were on our mission trip last summer.
We're praying for you and are loving your entries!

Leslie G said...

My computer was under the weather, and then I was, so I am just now able to check in. Sounds like you are blending in well. We had some of the best times on our own ordering food or going grocery shopping. It was always an adventure and we felt so extremely smart and pleased with ourselves when we actually got what we wanted, instead of some surprise. ....ahhhh the little things!
Many blessings as you continue along.....Leslie (the other one)

Ken and Joy said...

Leslie - I look forward to your posts. You are such an author! You need to write a book because you really do draw people in by your writing! Glad to hear things are going well. I hope Robert feels better soon...getting sick is one of my worries while being over there. I am taking lots of medicine just in case.

Thanks for the heads up on the milk! I will be eating my cereal dry also!

Joy Rae

Kristen said...

CALL ME CALL ME. and omgg ur hair is soo longgg!!!!!! ahhh :) ask robert is maybe mayo will help him now? hahaha Lesslliieee come home soon. Ive been needing a house to stay at for bites cuz of my sdlfjslkdjf this person i have to call mother, and you are goneeeee. I LOVE YOU. MISS YOU

and kristinas middle name is perfect!! ahh!! i love it!! Its alot better than all the names Whitney was picking hahah

Lucia said...

What a beautiful name for a beautiful young lady! You do paint a wonderful picture of all that you see and do - I agree that you should write a book!

Hope Robert is feeling better soon ... and thanks for the info on the "milk."

For those of you who are looking for luggage rules (wt, size, etc.) for Aerosvit, check our blog later today for the website - I was able to find it!! Our blog address is

Stephanee Potts said...

Hi Leslie,
If you get a chance can you email me? I have been following your story and it is incredible. I don't know you but am so happy to read all that God has done to bring Kristina to your family. I want to ask you something, so if you coudl email me, I'd really appreciate it. My email is

Thank you,

Kimbell and Mark said...

Can't wait for today's update. I emailed you your Survivor update!!! XO You guys look adorable in the pic.

Anonymous said...

I hope everything works out with Kristina. She is a precious girl and I love her very much and I am so glad that you are going to bring her to the U.S. I really hope everything works out


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