Friday, October 26, 2007

Owned by the Orphans

We were able to make it to the orphanage today and Kristina was happy to see us. Her class has changed so much since I was here 18 months ago. Several of the children have been adopted by families who hosted through Frontier Horizon. Some have transferred to other classes and there are some children who, sadly, are new to the orphan system. In an attempt to get to know the new kids and to create a level of comfort, I broke out the Uno cards. A handful of kids plopped down on the rug in a circle as I broke open the new pack and dealt out the first hand. I told Kristina I wanted to tell all of children something and I would like her to translate for me. She nodded her serious little head and waited for what I wanted to share with the other kids. "Please tell the children that your momma is going to beat them at this card game." She smiled her mischevious smile and translated to the attentive group what I had said. Immediately shy Alyona's cards went up to hide her smile. Adik emphtically declared "No, you not!" in his broken English. After four hands, I'm ashamed to admit that I was spanked at Uno by the Ukrainian orphans. Sean, you were right, they do play by different rules. I caught on quickly, but they still schooled me with great joy. When Uno got old, the boys showed me cards tricks that would rival some street magicians. They piled on the couch like puppies by Robert trying to get a good view of the video camera as he played back footage of our time in Kiev. Robert was instantly attached to all of them. I knew this would happen. These children are such beautiful gems. Anyone would be blessed to have them in their family.

Wanting some one-on-one time, Kristina took Robert on a tour of the orphanage. We were able to meet her music teachers who teared up during introductions. Its clear to see that many of these caregivers love the children they work with. It will be difficult to say goodbye when the time comes.

We felt a little embarassed about showing up empty handed to the orphanage, so we got permission to take Kristina and walk down the road to a market. The area where the orphanage is located is a dreary place. Mud platted with fallen leaves covers the roads, sidewalks, and driveways. We picked our way around mud holes and pools of rain water while trying to avoid the traffic that whizzed by at extreme speeds. At the market, Kristina lined the bottom of a wire basket with 14 juice boxes and a pack of cookies to share with her class. When we came to the check out she chatted with the checkout girl as if she had known her a lifetime. On the walk back she asked if we would come again tomorrow, and maybe the next day, and what about next week? Back at the internot she distributed the goodies to anxious hands that gobbled up the cookies. Ashley, Greshia found his way to the playroom when he heard there were treats to be had. We gave him the envelope and he tore it open instantly. He gets cuter every time I see him!

Quiet Sasha set up the Connect Four game opposite me on the floor and nobly gestured for me to go first. As I considered my next move, Kristina whispered in my ear, "Mama, you find family for Sasha? He is good boy." What do you say to that kind of request? We had time for several games of Connect Four (held my own there) and photos before it was time to head out. We hadn't eaten all day and were starving. Jeri and Natasha invited us to join them at a Japanese resturant down the street that turned out to be quite good. Nataha is leaving on the train back to Kiev tonight to spend the weekend at home with family, so we will be on our own until Monday night. Nebraska missionary Michelle has invited us to brave the bus system with her tomorrow and show us the ropes of public transit in Odessa. We'll meet up with her in the morning and make our way over to the orphanage. Thanks to everyone for the kind prayers on Robert's behalf. He is better today, but still needs a little rest to fully recooperate. Please pray that the paperwork we anticipate being done on Monday will in fact be finished and can be sent to Kiev for approval at the SDA. We want to keep the ball rolling on this adventure!

Lisa, thanks for the advice on which milk we should have bought. I'm heading back to the grocery store in the Greek Square tomorrow and will try again!

Jim-I met Tolik yeaterday and instantly name dropped. He immedaitely lit into your sauna experience and I was tickled to hear it all over again from his perspective. I'm hoping we can go and worship with them on Sunday. What a great guy! I also mentioned you when I met Scott here at the apartment. Everyone lights up when they hear your name. What an impression you left on this city!

Kim B., I owe you big time for the Survivor update. I can't believe I can watch it on the website. Pray that my connection is fast enough to download it!

Pam, which pizza place did you guys eat at? Pizza City? Pan Pizza?

Kristen, yeah I thought that name would be better than Kristina Panera Landrum. What was Whit thinking? My mom is at the house with the kids. You know you're always welcome there!

Lucia, thanks for the specifics for Aerosvit luggage requirements. Those of you flying Aerosvt should check Lucia's blog for the details. It will save you a major headache at the airport. The Wollschlagers had a problem with their luggage too and it would be a good idea to read their experience.


adoptedthree said...

Thank you for the beautiful pictures of the children

I love the older children and the sad part is after seven years post adopting my son, he would have been one of these children hoping for a home as an older child

I hope that each one of these children that have a chance are adopted as I would adopt them all and plan on adopting at least one or two in the future (but not soon enough)

Ashley said...

Thank you so much for giving Grisha the envelope from us! Yes, he looks cuter to me, also! Every time I see him, he is growing more and more and looks cuter and cuter if that's even possible. I love the pictures! I am glad your husband is feeling a little better. We are praying everything goes well with the paperwork on Mon. Thank you for your detailed posts. I am living all of this through you.

Melissa E. said...

I recognize one of Kristina's teachers ( The man) from the O'Hara's pictures. Was one of their daughters in Kristina's class?

Tami said...

I'm glad to hear Robert is feeling better! I'd better brush up on my Uno skills before we get over there!

Jim H. said...

I am so glad you met Tolik. What an outstanding young man. Please send him and all his family my very best. Sounds like you're off to a great start. Kristina's question regarding Sasha breaks my heart. Every time I went to the internot I left wishing I could find homes for all of them. You are right, these are great kids with enormous potential.

Please say hi to Scott, Masha and Ulyana at OES.

Kimbell and Mark said...

What sweet precious kids - looks like they'd be inspiration for another video!!!! I've forwarded your video to tons of people - and it's really opened their hearts to the plight of orphans. Thanks for letting us journey along with you! XO

Kimbell and Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam DeFrees said...

I think it is called Pan Pizza. But inside the 3 story mall they have great pizza too.
PLEASE tell my son, Tolik, hello for me! Tell him I still love him even though he doesn't write to his American Mom! : ) He'll laugh. He did write one day and the smile on my face lasted the whole week!!!