Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In the homestretch...

It's been a week since our last post so I thought I'd take a minute to share some pictures and let you know what we've been up to.

On Wednesday, June 24th we applied for Issac's passport in Odessa. It takes 5 business days (or more) to get the passport.  Monday was a Ukrainian holiday, so we are hoping that the passport will arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.  

That evening we got to go to the ballet at the beautiful Odessa Opera House with Laura and our new friend Michael.  The tickets were $2.30 a piece!

On Thursday the boys got their haircut with Laura's hairstylist and then we met up with friends from Colonial who are also here in Odessa, adopting two children, and went to a water park.  The boys had a blast!

The local convenience store near Laura's apartment.

On Friday, we took a tour of the catacombs.  The catacombs are a series of underground tunnels that run for miles and miles underneath Odessa.  When Odessa was being built in the 18th century, the people had to go underground to dig out limestone for building materials because there are very few trees here.  This created miles and miles of tunnels.  During WWII these tunnels were used as hiding places by the residents of Odessa.  Some people had to live in these tunnels for 2-3 years to escape the Nazis.  Life had to go on underground so there were sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a hospital, a school, a printing press, a post office, a dating bench, a place to iron, guns for fighting, etc...
The men's sleeping quarters

 Tools and devices used in the catacombs

 The laundry and ironing room

Memorials to all those who lost their lives in the catacombs

The school 

The students :)

The hospital

On Saturday we went back to Camp Lela for a few hours.  Isaac's orphanage was there for the week so he had the opportunity to see some of his friends and say one last goodbye.

The boys even got to ride a horse, which they loved!

Sunday, we were so thankful to be able to go to church with Laura one last time before we got on the 12:30 bus to travel back to Kiev.  As I said goodbye to Laura, I was overcome with emotion and thankfulness for all she had done for us during the last 3 weeks in Odessa.  Such a gift from God she was to us.  I don't know how we would have managed without her.

The 7 hour bus ride was crowded, hot, and loud, but we survived and were thankful Alex was waiting for us at the bus station to take us to our very nice apartment.  For the first time in 3 weeks, I am sleeping on a real bed!  

On Monday, we had Issac's medical appointment.  He had a brief physical and got pricked for his TB test.  Once again we saw God work out details for us.  Alex told us when we arrived that we might have a problem getting a physical for Isaac.  He has no medical records or documentation of vaccinations.  The medical center could have refused to see him for this reason.  Thankfully they allowed him to have his appointment despite the missing records.  Praise God!  And thank you God, once again, for giving us Alex to fight for us here in Ukraine!  The appointment took 3 long hours, but during that time we met another American family, the Tidwells, who are finishing up their adoption of two daughters.  What a privilege to meet this family and see their strong faith and deep love for God!
We spent the rest of the day with the Tidwells and Hoeffels touring the WWII museum.
As we were walking to the museum we just "happened" to bump into our new friend Michael whom we had met at Camp Lela in Odessa.  He's been in Kiev for a few days before he flies home to Arkansas.  Definitely a God appointment!  Michael was so thankful to have friends to hang out with for the afternoon and evening.  
The boys favorite part of the museum was climbing on all the tanks and statues. 

Nikita (adopted by Hoeffels, Isaac, Josiah, Grace and Melodie (adopted by Tidwells) and bio daughter Charleston.

More climbing...

and more climbing...

This statue is the Motherland Monument.  It's breath taking!  Even larger than the Statue of Liberty!

More climbing!

This is what our sweet boy did for most of the time in the war museum.  He'd find a museum worker and sit and ask question after question about the museum.

More climbing!

The Tidwell Family

The Hoeffel Family

Supper at Oliva, one of our favorite restaurants in Kiev.

Praise God, the US embassy fixed their computer problem last Thursday!  All the children who are in the hosting program that Alex and Nastya work with were able to have their visa appointments on Saturday and flew out as scheduled on Monday.  This morning we had our first embassy appointment.  It went very smoothly and only lasted about 15 minutes.  Now we must wait for the passport to arrive so we can have our 2nd appointment.  Once we've had the 2nd appointment and receive the visa, we are free to go home!  We have purchased plane tickets for Friday morning, hoping and praying that the passport will arrive in time for us to finish everything up on Thursday.