Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back on American Soil

 

 As we sit here at JFK, awaiting our last flight of the day which will finally take us home, we find ourselves grateful for the little things...things that a week ago, we wouldn't have remembered to give thanks for...the ability to read the signs around us, understanding conversations that are floating across the air, the anticipation of sleeping in a large bed with comfortable pillows, driving on smooth roads.  Yet even as we are giddy with excitement at hugging our children at the airport, we have left a large part of our heart back in a vast country of rugged farmland and beautiful, historic cities.  A country that a week ago we knew very little about and had some fear and apprehension about the reception we might meet.  But now we find we have fallen in love with Ukraine and its people.  Our hearts break with them as they face an uncertain future. We had been cautioned that Americans were not well liked and we should be very careful, however, we encountered warm, kind people who did their best to assist these two inexperienced, ill-prepared Americans maneuver through the mysteries of a new culture.

Our trip back to Pishana on Wednesday was more difficult than we anticipated.    Our taxi driver picked us up at 5am.  The first three hours of the trip were on a fairly decent highway.  Each time we have traveled this highway in the last week we are struck by the feeling of entering a time machine and traveling back in time 100 years as soon as you leave the bustling metropolis of Kiev.  When you leave the city, all that you see along this highway are miles and miles of farmland and small villages.  The last hour of the trip requires us to leave the highway and travel on a country road, a road that is so full of potholes that I find myself looking at my watch every five minutes to see if the hour of torture on this road is nearly over.  Finally, when I thought I couldn't endure another second of being thrown back and forth we pulled into the city of Balta.  Here we met up with Svetlana, the facilitator who works in this area, and Marina, our translator for the day.  Svetlana informed us (through Marina) that we would be meeting with the Director of Social Services and she would travel with us to Pishana to observe our interaction with Igor.  However, the director had been called away briefly to deal with a problem in another local orphanage and we would need to wait for her.  Svetlana and Marina climbed into the car with us and Sasha (our driver) took us around the corner to the notary to drop off some documents to be notarized for our visit to Pishana.  This would take about an hour so we suggested to Svetlana and Marina that we go to the restaurant we had discovered on Saturday for coffee.  We were thankful that God had led us to this restaurant earlier as the only restaurant Svetlana knew of did not open until noon.  Yesterday was by far the coldest, grayest day we have experienced during our visit so we were thankful to find a warm place to sit.  We decided to go ahead and order food as we didn't know when we'd next get a chance to eat.  I'm so glad we did...it turned out that we had neither lunch nor dinner yesterday.  After an hour and a half we returned to the notary to sign the documents that had been prepared and then headed to the Department of Social Services to pick up the director.
 

  Svetlana went inside while the rest of us waited in the car for what we thought would be 5 minutes.  5 minutes turned into 15...turned into 30...60...2 hours!  At one point Jim and I got out of the car to stretch our legs and pace back and forth in the cold drizzling rain.  Finally, we heard word from Svetlana, that the director was fearful to allow us to have this visit because of the circumstances in Lugansk.  We were the first couple trying to move forward without official documents and she was fearful to allow us to procede.  I felt an oppressive weight on my chest as I was reminded once again of the intense battle we were facing and began to pray urgently that God would move the director's heart and allow us to visit.  Finally, after 3 hours of waiting, she sent out another representative to travel with us to Pishana.  The 6 of us squeezed into Sasha's car and we made the 30 minute drive to the orphanage.  We were greeted by many of the sweet, smiling boys we had enjoyed playing with on Saturday.  As we headed in to look for Igor and meet with the director of his school, I wondered how much he had been told of this visit.  I think he knew something about it, for he was a bit subdued and business like when I greeted him.  We were ushered into the director's office where we spent about 45 minutes meeting with her and several other representatives (not sure who they all were).  Most of the conversation flowed back and forth between Igor's director, Svetlana, and the Social Services representative.  Marina would translate for us here and there.  We had been warned by Alex, that we might receive a cool reception from the Pishana director, so we were so grateful to hear her kind words about us and about Igor.  She informed the social worker that we had hosted Igor and he had been very happy with us.  She said we have kept in communication with him and told of our recent visit to the school.  She praised Igor highly, as the most well-behaved, kind-hearted child they had received from Lugansk.  At one point they brought in a doctor who informed us that Igor was in good health.  Much of the conversation after that we did not understand.  About half way through the meeting, they brought Igor in and since there were no chairs left in the small office he sat on my lap.  The social worker and director asked him many questions, questions about our family, our interaction with him, why did he want to be adopted by us?  He told them he loved us very much and I was his "natural" mother.  That brought a chuckle from all of them.  They asked if he had any relatives or if anyone had ever come to visit him when he lived in Lugansk.  He told them no...no relatives...no one had ever visited him.  Then they asked us a number of questions...why did we want to adopt when we already had 4 children?  Did we realize how difficult this would be?  I hope our responses were adequate.  We were aware that it would be difficult but parenting is always challenging.  We felt blessed by God and wanted to share those blessings.  We tried to explain our own adoption by God and how that motivates us.  We talked of our love for Igor and how deeply our children loved him and wanted him to be their brother.  Finally, the director brought the meeting to a close.  We asked Marina if Igor was going to sign a document saying he wanted to be adopted by us.  Apparently, because of the uniqueness of our situation, this could not be done that day, but they assured us it would occur in a few days and we did not need to be present.  We were told later by Marina that the meeting had been very positive and the social worker observed positive interaction between Igor and us.  We were told we could stay as long as we wanted to visit with Igor.  However, by now it was nearing 4pm and we had a long trip back to Kiev and an early flight so our visit with him was brief.  We headed upstairs to a large open room with a couch and pulled out some snacks to share.  (Igor had skipped lunch also in order to be at the meeting with us)    We were surrounded almost immediately, by the same group of boys that greeted us on our arrival.  It was interesting to us that it was all boys who hung out with us.  I felt a little like Wendy from Peter Pan with the lost boys.  I looked around the room at all their sweet faces, some of them on the brink of manhood,  and my heart broke for them.  Who would be a mama and papa to these boys?  Who would come to rescue them and give them a future?  We had fun playing spoons together and then all too soon it was time to climb back in the taxi to drive back to Balta and then on to Kiev. 



We hugged Igor and assured him that we would be back as soon as we could.  Svetlana had done a very good job of explaining to Igor that our situation was unique because he is from Lugansk and this could take awhile.  He seemed to understand.  We all prayed together...surrounded by this group of boys.  Then they all trailed after us as we headed out to the car.  This time the tears were fewer because there was hope a return visit, a visit we hope will allow us to bring this boy home forever.
On this long journey home we have had time to reflect on all God has done for us this week.  When we left home 9 days ago, we had no idea  what we would face.  We didn't know how God would accomplish granting us a referral when no contact was made with the Irmino director.  We knew He had given us the opportunity to meet with the SDA and we were surrendered to whatever plans He had.  We are overwhelmed at God's goodness to us!  He has shown Himself strong in our lives.  A mighty warrior who fights our battles.  All we could do was pray and submit to Him and He fought for us.  He provided abundantly for our needs and moved mountains out of the way.  Even yesterday we learned from Alex,  a ruling had just been made on Tuesday in Odessa to allow the directors of the orphanages that have taken in Lugansk children to act as their legal guardians and make decisions for them.  If this ruling had not been made, the Pishana director would not have the authority to give approval of Igor's adoption.  This happened the day before our meeting....God's timing never ceases to amaze us!
We can never say thank you enough to all of you who have been praying with us through this journey.  Many of you we have never even met!  Keep it up!  The battle is not over yet.  Many more obstacles must be overcome.  The next challenge is to get another official copy of Igor's birth certificate made so that we can request a court date.  On Monday morning, the morning of our 2nd (or was it 3rd?) SDA appointment, my daily bible reading was in I Samuel 16-17, the story of David facing Goliath.  David's words to Saul as he prepared to face Goliath resonated with me.  He told him "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine."  David trusted in God's deliverance based on His previous work in David's life.  We have seen God act as a Mighty Warrior in our life and we can trust Him with the next battle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Savior, He can move the mountains!!!

Savior, He can move the mountains...Our God is Mighty to Save, He is Mighty to Save!

Ephesians 3:20-21
   "Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever!"

Psalm 145: 3-7
   "Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of Thy majesty and on Thy wonderful works I will meditate.  And men shall speak of the power of Thine awesome acts; and I will tell of Thy greatness.  They shall eagerly utter the memory of Thine abundant goodness, and shout joyfully of Thy righteousness."

Today we celebrate God for all He has accomplished thus far!  For His abundant goodness to us!  For His incomprehensible grace to us!  Today He moved the first of many mountains is bringing Igor home.  We were given the referral from the SDA office!



 
This was an almost impossible task.  One that only God could accomplish for us. 
We are so thankful for Alex who fought relentlessly for this referral for the Moore family and for us.  SDA appointments never last more than an hour.  If you combine the total time of the two days we spent at the SDA office...this took 7 hours.  7 hours of Alex arguing with the Deputy Minister.  Even when we left last night we did not know if she or the Director would sign for our referral.  But God moved them to sign and we know we can trust Him to clear away the rest of the obstacles if that is His will.

For those of you who are unsure of all the adoption terms.  Our dossier (large packet of forms which includes a home study and many other documents) was approved by Ukraine in May.  A referral is a direct match with a child.  We have now been officially matched with Igor and given permission to pursue adopting him.  The next step is to get the director's approval from Pishana and Igor's agreement to be adopted by us.  Then we will wait to be assigned a court date when he is legally declared to be our child.

Alex and Nastya have strongly cautioned us not to get our hopes up.  They told us that this adoption could get shut down at any point.  We are forging through new territory.  They have no idea how long it will take to get new copies of Igor's documents printed.  They told us Igor's director at Pishana could say "no".  The Deputy Minister will have to give approval for us to get a court date and she could say "no".  The judge in court could say "no".  So we will celebrate today's victory and we will trust God to accomplish His plan in His timing and in His way. 

We have hired a driver to pick us up at 5am tomorrow morning and take us back to Pishana (a 4 hour trip) There we will meet with the director of the orphanage and another facilitator in the area.  The director will need to give approval of the adoption and Igor will need to sign a paper agreeing to be adopted.  (We aren't worried about his answer!)  Please pray that through the translator we will be able to communicate with Igor the process that remains ahead of us.  Last time he expected us to take him home when we arrived.  We need him to understand that much of the process lies ahead of us, yet be able to rejoice in what God has done for him thus far.  We must return to Kiev tomorrow night as we plan to fly home Thursday morning. 

So we will continue to need the help of our prayer warriors!  The battle is not won yet.  I appreciated the words to this song, that Sue Lowe shared with me yesterday.

  In heavenly armour we'll enter the land
The battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that's fashioned against us will stand
The battle belongs to the Lord
And we sing glory, honour
Power and strength to the Lord
We sing glory, honour
Power and strength to the Lord

When the power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord

When your enemy presses in hard, do not fear
The battle belongs to the Lord
Take courage, my friend, your redemption is near
The battle belongs to the Lord

Monday, November 10, 2014

We are promised an answer in the morning

From Jim...

We are back in Kiev and had our second appointment at the SDA office earlier today.  We continue to hope for news that our official referral to adopt Igor will be granted.  (For you bottom line people, skip below to the statement in bold.)  Yesterday we travelled via cab and bus from Balta to Kiev.  We are thankful that Kimmie's back has held up well especially since prior to this trip sitting for a few minutes in the car  would get very painful.  Yesterday alone our travels had us sitting in car or bus at least 7 hours.  We had a great night of rest on a normal size bed and by noon today our internet connection was fixed so that after our SDA appointment we could get caught up on some work and connections.

There are some lessons that we continue to see over and over.  One of those lessons is that God is the one who is our strength and the one who fights and secures the battle.  The battle is not won by our strength.  Proverbs 21:1 says He turns the heart of the king as easily as directing water in his hand.  This morning we received two messages reminding us that God can make a way when there seems to be no way.  Kimmie was reading about David as he approached Saul about fighting Goliath when he said "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."  We went to the SDA office with notes of encouragement, strengthened by the knowledge of his saints praying, and thankful for being out of our comfort zone so as to notice first hand how God has provided in so many details on this trip. 

We both seemed to wrestle with how much to pray today.  We are reminded of God's instruction to pray illustrated in the parable of the woman who asked the king her request day after day until he finally granted the wish just to get rid of her.  When we arrived at the SDA office we had to wait for our appointment.  Kimmie wanted to walk around the building and pray whereas I felt God had confirmed He heard our prayers and it was time to wait and watch.  I wrestled with whether I was getting lazy in the discipline and work of prayer or whether God was putting me at rest.  Finally we went into the SDA office to realize that we would need to wait for another two hours before we would be taken in for our appointment.  The waiting room is pictured below. 

  
If we had not realized it before, we were reminded again that this is truly a case of the battle being the Lord's.  While our adoption facilitator and SDA staff debated our situation we waited in this room.  We see that if God grants favor on our request it can't be because of anything we have done.  For the final 45 minutes we were taken through the Deputy Minister's office to the office of her assistant.  There she prepared our file as if we were going to get our referral.  We got to see two pictures of Igor, one as a baby and one at age 2 or 3.  We understood her to read some of the Ukrainian law to her boss which detailed there being no obstruction to our referral.  We signed the official book requesting our referral and were told that we would have an answer tomorrow.  As we left our appointment we understand our petition will be placed on the desk of the SDA director for a decision in the morning.  So we lift up the prayer we have had since we arrived, that our referral for Igor will be granted and we will then be one step closer to his adoption.   While the process has been slow, we see one hurdle after another being cleared.  Our hope remains high and through the strength of our Lord and His people our faith remains secure.  If our referral is granted it will likely lead to a delay in our coming home as we will have more work to do in country.

Our prayer through all of this is that the name of the Lord be glorified above all else.  This desire was once reflected even in the construction of this city.  Our apartment in near St. Sophia Church.  It sits on a hill and the top was built to be the tallest point in the city to reflect the supremacy of God.  The city was also planned so that three glorious churches would surround a section of the town.  This reminds me that we cannot go in any direction where we cannot see and know God's love, His glory or the support of His people.  (Below is St. Andrews and St. Michael's church, two of the three churches mentioned referenced above.)  




Last night we were treated to being able to walk through this beautiful city for an hour before it turned dark and then met with two other couples going through the adoption process for a great dinner at an authentic Ukrainian restaurant.







  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pishana

Yesterday, after 10 months of separation we finally saw our boy again.  He did not know we were coming with the team from Nasledie.  As the children streamed out of the school to greet the team, Jim and I hid behind a van and Laura grabbed Igor (and my phone) and led him over for a surprise...
video
(I'm so sorry!  It's sideways and I don't know how to fix it!)
 
Igor was so giddy with excitement!  He grabbed my hand and drug me over to the other children to introduce, "Kimmie, My Mama!"  He kept hugging us, as if to convince himself that this was not a dream.  A few minutes later we were ushered into the director's office for her to greet us and ask us a few questions.  We were thrilled to be able to deliver 120 hats and gloves for the children.  She was very grateful for them and we decided together that it would be best for the teachers to deliver them later in an orderly fashion.  If we tried to hand them out it would have been mass chaos...so I'm afraid we have no pictures of them receiving these.  But for all who donated, please know that the school was so grateful for your gift.  We had been a little uneasy, anticipating the director's reception, but she was very welcoming and gracious.  She gave us freedom to interact with Igor and the other children as much as we wanted.  When we finished with our meeting with the director, Igor immediately began asking us if we were taking him to America.  I was evasive in my answers, until we could grab Laura (to interpret) and find a quiet corner.  Then we had the very difficult job of telling an excited little boy that this was just a visit.  Igor did not react well.  As Laura tried to lovingly and patiently explain our situation, he began to withdraw and was very upset.  It was so painful to watch...How do you explain to a child the frustrating circumstances of not being able to get a referral simply because there are no hard copies of the paperwork???  Finally, I think he understood enough to know that we loved him and we were still fighting for him and we came because we wanted to see him even if we couldn't take him home right now.  We did not breath a word about the possibility of returning on Wednesday with a referral because we did not want to give him false hope. 
The team from Nasledie then did a two hour program with the children in the auditorium. 
 
After the team left we had about an hour alone with Igor to visit and share with him the gifts and clothing we brought.  Too soon the taxi arrived to take us to Balta, the nearest town with a hotel.  We assured Igor that we would return the next day for another visit and climbed into the taxi for a 30 minute jostling, stomach shaking ride to Balta.  You've never experienced a road with potholes until you drive on the backroads in Ukraine!  We were a little apprehensive of staying in a foreign city, where we didn't even know the alphabet, without an interpreter.  But God has been our amazing Provider continuously!!  When we arrived at the hotel, there was another tenant who spoke English and interpreted for the landlady.  When we walked next door to dinner, the waiter spoke very good English and has actually served with our facilitators as an interpreter for adoptions.  He was able to tell us about a restaurant in town that would be open for breakfast the next morning, and even drew us a map and gave us his cell number.  Although the bed in the hotel room is not much larger than twin size, there was a fan!  And for a couple who has gotten addicted to falling asleep with the sound of a fan, we were elated!
 
The next morning we set out with our little scrawled map to try and find breakfast.  We soon realized that two Americans, trying to find a restaurant in a strange Ukrainian town (even with our simple map) would be like finding a needle in a haystack!  I'll save you the long story and suffice it to say that by God's grace alone we finally found the restaurant he was referring to and enjoyed a delicious breakfast.  We then walked through a little market place and picked up a few things for lunch that day.
 


 
Soon it was time to head back to Pishana.  Our friendly (non-English speaking) taxi driver (Boris) showed up and we climbed back into his car for another roller coaster ride to the orphanage.  When we arrived we were greeted by lots of friendly children, but no Igor.  The children told us Igor was in school (on Saturday?) and took us up to his classroom. 
 
 Igor's classmates

 
Igor's teacher graciously dismissed him for the afternoon and we had a fabulous afternoon playing with him and the other children!
 









 
We even had a chance to see Igor's room:
 

 
And here is what happens when you let your camera loving boy get ahold of your Iphone...
 
 
All too soon it was time to say goodbye...I can't begin to describe how hard that was for all of us...but especially for Igor.  We held each other and prayed together, each of us beseeching our Father in our own language to please reunite us together soon.  Then we climbed back in the car with Boris, leaving our hearts and our boy at Pishana.  We were so very grateful that as we were leaving, Vanya, an older boy walked up and we were able to use the translator on the phone to ask him to help Igor as we left. 
 
Thank you for praying with us continuously through this journey.  We have felt so carried by the prayers of so many.  We are overwhelmed to tears every time we think of how many of you are praying with us and sharing this burden with us.
 




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hope amidst delays


As I type we are on a very bumpy 6 hour bus ride to Odessa.  We will arrive sometime after midnight tonight at the apartment of our friend Laura from the Nasledie Heritage Foundation.  We knew it was imperative for us to get word out to family and friends of the day’s events, but contact has been challenging as we rarely have wifi to send out messages.  So while I’m more alert I’ll type out this blog and hope to post it at Laura’s apartment. 

Jim and I had a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed with time to pray and spend time reading promises from God’s Word.  We felt a peace and were surrendered to whatever God had for us that morning.  We were picked up at 9:30 by one of our facilitators, Alex.  We then drove to the apartment of Wes and Janet Moore who are also here trying to adopt a Lugansk child.  Wes and Janet had an appointment for 10am and ours was set for 11am.  Jim and I were actually thankful to be second because we had recently read the story of Joshua fighting the battle of Jericho.  We had been hoping that God might give us the opportunity before our appointment to walk around the SDA building and pray and sing praise songs, asking God to work a wonder and tear down this “wall” that stood in our way.  God in his goodness gave us 30 minutes to do just that.  When Alex came back out with Wes and Janet we thought it was our turn to head in to face the SDA officer.  But he told Nastya (our other facilitator who had arrived to help us) and us that the officer had referred him to speak to the Deputy Minister of the SDA (2nd in charge) and we needed to wait for her to get out of a meeting.  So we all went across the street to a café to have lunch and wait.  About an hour later Alex got a phone call to come back, so we all headed back to the SDA…Wes, Janet and Alex to return upstairs and try to complete their appointment (now with the Deputy Minister) and Nastya, Jim and I into a waiting room.  Waiting room is a generous word, as it’s more like a narrow hallway with one couch.  For two hours we waited as Alex argued with the Deputy Minister.  We were told by Nastya that the argument was quite heated as Alex fought to get a referral for our children.  Jim and I sat on that couch and prayed, and read scripture, and prayed scripture…we truly felt a battle raging in the spiritual realm for these children.  If granted, these referrals will be the first two for children of the Lugansk region (one was granted about a month ago, but that was for a child of a trade school, so that’s a different scenario), and could break open the gates for these waiting families.  I don’t understand exactly what Alex and Nastya are trying to do in setting a new precedent, but we were in awe and overwhelmed with gratitude for these two and how hard they fight for the orphans of Ukraine.  I’m having Jim insert a few paragraphs here to try and explain what we are requesting.

During today’s meeting the officials were able to see that Igor’s birth certificate and the court order relinquishing any of his birth parent’s parental rights was recorded in the Ukraine computerized court records.  This is a real item of praise and celebration because we do not believe we will be able to recover the original documents.  We understand from a Ukrainian judge that these documents are reliable for legal proceedings however this is not usual protocol and creates a Catch-22.  If we have a referral we can request a replacement birth certificate.  Without the referral we have no authority to request the document.  Without the official birth certificate the SDA finds it difficult to grant the referral.  So where do we stand?  We were not granted our referral for Igor’s adoption today.  Instead a request is being sent to Igor’s new orphanage to submit the request for his original documentation.  We do not believe there are any of these original documents at his new orphanage but the Deputy Minister thought it necessary to submit a request in writing for these documents.  We have been granted another appointment with the Deputy Minister on Monday afternoon and if the DM will be willing to set a new precedent we could be granted a referral on Tuesday.  Lastly, we understand the officials considering our cause have to evaluate their own job security and safety.  In establishing new policy they do not want to put their position at risk.  In granting approval they do not wish to stir up potential personal retaliation from those sympathetic to the separatists in Eastern Ukraine who wish these kids only to remain in Eastern Ukraine.  Therefore, we pray God strengthens their courage and allows them to provide a way for Igor and for several other kids in the same position to find their forever families.  

When Alex came out of the Moore’s appointment and we all signed a petition requesting another appointment on Monday we had some quick decisions to make about what to do with these 3 days ahead of us.  If we are not granted favor on Monday and do not receive a referral we would not have time to head to Pishana to visit Igor before our flight on Wed.  Laura and a team from Nasledie are heading to Pishana tomorrow morning to do a program with the children.  We called Laura to see what we should do.  She said we needed to come tonight to her apartment in Odessa and travel with the team to Pishana tomorrow.  Alex assisted us in purchasing bus tickets online and told us we had purchased the last two tickets available.  He also told us that we would have to pay extra at the bus station for all 7 bags we were taking.  We rushed back to our apartment in Kiev to repack our bags and Alex and Alexsya (Nastya’s husband) drove us to the bus station.  God’s goodness to us continues as the check-in clerk did not charge us anything for our bags and there are two women on this bus who speak English and have been able to assist us. 

We will leave early tomorrow morning (around 7:30) with the team to head to Pishana.  Odessa is about 3 hours from Pishana.  We are unsure at this point if we will be able to stay near Pishana for the weekend and continue visiting with Igor after the team leaves or if we will need to head back with Laura and stay at her apartment again on Friday night.  Pishana is a very small village and there are no lodging houses there.  Balta is the closest town, 20 minutes away, but we will not have anyone with us who could translate for us or drive us back and forth.  We are taking one day at a time at this point.  For now, we are so thankful that Alex and Alexsya went out of their way to help us arrange this trip to Odessa. Thankful also that Laura has invited us to stay with her tonight and arranged for us to visit Igor tomorrow.   We are filled with anticipation and excitement as we think about hugging our sweet boy!

We need an army of prayer warriors to go to battle with us over the next few days.  We are asking for many of you to continue to pray fervently that God will move the heart of the Deputy Minister to grant this referral.  If we are given a referral on Tuesday, we will then travel back to Odessa on Wednesday to meet with Igor’s director and have Igor sign a paper that he wants to be adopted.  That means our flight plans will need to change.  Right now we are scheduled to fly home on Wed. morning. 

We have seen God’s hand of protection and provision in so many ways on this trip!  We continue to look with expectation for a display of His wonders.  As we were praying and reading through Psalms at the SDA this afternoon, this passage stood out to us:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations.  Let the people praise you, O God; let all the people praise you!”  Psalm 67:1-3

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tired, Thankful, and Nervous

Well, after 17 hours of travel we finally arrived in Ukraine around 5:30 (Ukrainian time).  It's now 10:30pm here and we've been up for 33 hours with a cat nap here or there, so this post will be brief.  (It just took my fatigued brain 5 minutes to calculate how many hours I've been awake)  We didn't want to go to bed tonight without leaving a post to let everyone know we are here safe and sound.  We have much to praise God for as we head to bed. 

1.  First of all, God waived the $285 baggage fee the airline was going to charge us for our extra bag!  We didn't think it was going to happen as the check-in agent didn't think he could do it with out a waiver code and after a long phone call with customer service, they said they couldn't give us one.  But the clerk asked a manager on duty and she gave him one, so we were cleared!  When we arrived in Paris, we had to go through security again and get our tickets issued for Kiev.  The agent couldn't understand why we had 7 bags and how it was possible that there was a waiver code on the charge, but allowed us to continue on with no fee.   

2.  When we arrived at JFK somehow we got directed to the wrong gate for our flight to Paris.  As we sat there for over an hour we wondered why the plane hadn't started boarding yet.  We figured the plane was late.  Just then we heard our names announced overhead telling us this was our final boarding call.  We sprinted through the airport with our carry-ons...and unbeknownst to me, mine was half open and stuff was flying out!  We made it to the gate by the skin of our teeth and some kind person ran after me to return my fleece that had fallen out.  It was several minutes before my heart settled down to a regular beat again!  Praise God we made it in time!

3.  At breakfast (or was that lunch??  my internal clock said 6am and the clock at the airport said noon)  the cashier almost overcharged us.  We would never have known, but he rerang the order for the correct price.

4.  Our flight to Kiev was not full so Jim and I had a row to ourselves and room to stretch out a little. 

5.  We are happily settled in a little apartment here, finally got some dinner at a quaint café around the corner  and we're headed to bed soon.

Tomorrow morning we have our appointment at 11am.  We have not spoken to our facilitators at all since we arrived.  We were picked up at the airport by one facilitator's wife.  As we look at the mountain we face tomorrow, humanly it seems insurmountable.  There is not a lot of hope at this point that anything can be done to grant us a referral.  Our hope is in God alone.  He can move this mountain if He chooses.  We continue to ask Him to do that, but also to help us trust Him to work out His perfect plan. 

As my heart fluctuates between fear and trust I am reminded of Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Good night everyone!  Tomorrow is the big day!