I actually have to start from last night so I can give you the whole story, so bear with me. We had dinner at TGI Fridays rather early and we only split an appetizer and a dessert, so Robert decided at about 10pm last night that it was time to try Ukrainian food. We went down to the restaurant in the hotel and had Borsch soup and Chicken Kiev. There are a lot of British guests in the hotel and we found out that a series of big Manchester soccer games going on. The arena is right behind the hotel. We can literally open our window and see the field. I'll post pics once I get to Odessa.
Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Its humbling to hear that so many of you prayed for us today. We slept late and went down for the hotel's breakfast buffet. After breakfast we milled about, not wanting to stray too far from the hotel. Our travel clock broke in the journey over, so I called down to the desk to set the clock in the room. Dima said he would meet us in the lobby at 1:30 since our appointment was at 2. At about 1:20, he called from the lobby wondering where we were. It seems the receptionist gave us the wrong time. We were only off by 10 minutes, but it was just enough to put me on edge. We threw on our shoes (well, I threw on my boots. Natalyia, Robert said I looked Ukrainian from the knees down. Ha!) and scrambled to gather our passports and photo album. We left the hotel about 8 miutes off schedule. I sat in the back seat calming myself with the knowledge that God is in control. I had to remind myself that the SDA doesn't give out appointments for families to travel here just to tell them in person, "Um, we don't want you to adopt one of our children." Dima said the entire meeting would take about 5 minutes. I didn't believe that it would go that quickly, but I nodded in agreement. I kept watching the minutes tick by on the dashboard clock as we speed through town. 1:46. 1:53. 1:58! We pulled up right at 1:59 and jumped from the car. I had to jog to keep up with Dima. Just a side note here, ladies. The office is at the top of a rather steep hill with a very uneven cobble stone pavement. And here I was in my new boots with heels. What a sight I was trying to navigate (while running) up the pavement to the gated entrance.
When we reached the gate there were about 5 facilitators and one adopting couple standing around waiting for the gate to open. The other facilitators immediately recognized Dima and greeted him warmly. It made me think of the Proverbs 31:23 passage. Dima is obviously a well respected man.
My first reaction to seeing the entrance locked was, "Why is the gate shut and locked? Oh my goodness, please tell me we didn't miss our appointment!" One of the facilitators looked stressed and kept asking something of the guard on the other side of the gate. Each time he would reply, 'nyet'. Dima got the same response when he asked something. Don't panic, don't panic.
Just then, the door swung open and out walked one of the workers to fetch us in for our meeting. She was the translator who would accompany us in our meeting; she indicated that we should follow her. She was very kind and soft spoken. We followed the stairs up to the second floor and were shown into an office. The two women (one SDA worker and the translator) invited us to sit on the couch. The SDA worker and the translator sat across from us in chairs and Dima sat to our left to observe the meeting. The SDA worker asked us to introduce ourselves (names) and then asked to see our passports. She asked if we were there to adopt Kristina to which we replied in the affirmative. I could see that she had a Kristina's paper in her hands and I caught a glimpse of her photo in the upper left hand corner. It was just a fleeting look, but I could see how small and young she was when she entered the system. And suddenly I was reminded why I was here. The worker asked how I knew Kristina. I told her that I had met Kristina on a mission trip over a year ago. She nodded as the translator relayed my answer. She asked if we had any children. We said yes, we have four. She asked what their ages were. When we told her she raised her eyebrows and said, "You are determined to have big family, yes?" We laughed and replied that we did. She then placed Kristina's file in our hands. It was just one page all in Russian with a tiny photo of her in the corner. She asked if this was the child we wanted to adopt. I felt myself tearing up at the magnitude of this moment and I nodded in response. She asked if we wanted to know Kristina's history. We told her we did and she told us that Kristina was born in Odessa and her mother is deceased. Her father was awarded custody and then had his rights repealed by the courts. That is when she entered the system. She has no brothers or sisters, is a beautiful and friendly child according to the orphanage. That was all the specific info that they could provide us with, the orphanage would give us details if we wanted them. Before we could show them the pictures we brought, she said, "We are happy to give you referral for this girl." Time from start to finish: 5 minutes. I had planned to have pictures of this monumental event, but to be honest it was a blur. I wanted to have a picture outside the SDA, a copy of the file picture of Kristina, a picture after our appointment, but we didn't take any! Oh well!
We thanked the workers and headed back to the car. That was it! Dima asked if we wanted to travel to Odessa on the 10 pm overnight train and we indicated that we did. He said he would have the paperwork by 5 and send it with us. Amazing! We know things will not work this smoothly at every turn, but we are thankful for these little steps. We went back to the hotel and changed clothes. We had several hours to kill so we decided to venture downtown and check out Independence Square. We wandered around the underground mall and up the hill to one of the beautiful cathedrals. We stopped at an authentic Ukrainian restaurant on the way back and had dinner. The prices are amazing. We each had more food than we could possibly eat in a really nice resturant for under $15.00. Our facilitator Natasha will be meeting us in the lobby at 9pm to take us to the train station. I just wanted to let you know where we were in the journey. Don't stop praying for us now, though. We have a long road still ahead of us.
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