Sunday, March 01, 2015

Next week

Two big things going on next week:
1) I'm going to Kyiv with the mother who is adopting, just to help out however I can. I'll be staying there with her daughter from here and her baby from Kyiv, while she goes to another region to get their other new son. Please pray for all of us and all the details involved. Plans are still very flexible, and I don't know yet when I'll be back.

2) Will will be staying here with our children, of course. He also needs to keep up with renewing our residency and at least some of what he does for Agape. So, pray for all that, too, please.

I'll try to post some photos and funny Bogdan quotes before I leave. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The little ones

I wrote before about my typical Saturdays. Right after that I was able to start into more regular time with the bed-bound little ones and some others who don't participate in the Bible lessons, as I said that I was wanting to. Now that's part of the routine.

A few months ago the older girls we work with were temporarily moved into a "baby" group (they're really not babies, but they are little and they live in cribs), so I'm easily getting lots more contact with these little ones. After I finish the Bible lesson and take the boys back to their group, it's lunch time. I go in to the babies, and start feeding someone. I usually start with K., because she loves me and won't be calm until I give her some attention. I'm slower than the nannies with feeding, and I make sure we're talking and interacting the whole time. I haven't gotten used to feeding the ones who are flat on their backs all the time, although I do that sometimes. I'm always afraid that they'll choke! They all eat some variation of puree or mush fed to them with spoons. There are eight children in that group, and often about the time I'm done feeding two, the nanny is already done and cleaning up.

I've been bringing them cookies and juice, too, since I do that for the older kids. For these little ones, I crumble and mash the cookies and mix them with juice and then feed that to them after their regular lunch. I've noticed that some have definitely come to expect a sweet treat when they see me; I must be the cookie lady in their minds.

There's one absolutely precious little girl who is blind. I hadn't spent much time with her, because she's very fearful, and I didn't want to upset her. However, this week, the nanny told me that this little one always thinks she's hungry. No matter how much they spoon into her, she has a fit when they're done. (And she really is getting enough; there is no danger of actual hunger here.) So, this time before she even started to protest that her lunch was over, I took her a bowl of cookies. She did fuss when that was gone, but she also let me take her out of her crib and comfort her some in my arms. She could only stand a few minutes of that, but she was calm when I put her back. I'm going to try to hold her each week now, and see if she can get more comfortable with that and with me.

Oh, and about little K.... The time before last, the nannies seemed really tired and one had a toothache or something. So, they asked me to take K. with me when I took the older ones out for the Bible lesson. I wasn't too sure how that would work; teaching and interacting with the older ones, with her clinging to me? But I tried it, and it was fine. She sat in her stroller and listened and even "sang" with us. This week, she obviously wanted to go again and kept trying to pull me toward the classroom. But, there were other guests visiting at the same time, so I just walked her back and forth the whole time. She can only walk with support, and she loves when someone helps her practice. Then, when the guests left, I put her back in her stroller to do a short lesson with the older kids. She screamed for a minute, but as soon as we started singing she was sound asleep after all the exercise and excitement that she'd had.

Thank you for praying for me and for these little ones. Maybe you can pray specifically for a family to come for K.? She's the only one in that group who I know for sure is available for adoption. Thanks!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

More randomness

I was just taking photos off the camera. Here are a few:

School on the first sunny morning!

Asya's drawing for the library
Leftover orphanage crafts
I keep wanting to write about the fun and busyness of January, but I'm just not getting around to it. So, if you want to read my friend's words about it, most of what I was doing was helping her. And here's a video that includes the sweet girl who was just adopted here (she's Chesnie now), plus other kids and families, a few of whom I know.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Raia's second concert

Very soon after Raia's first concert, she was invited to play at another concert. She jumped at the chance. I thought it was pretty funny, because before she started at music school, she was looking forward to everything except concerts. She thought that concerts would be scary. Apparently experience changed her mind right away. I missed the concert, but Will recorded her part for us:

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


It's February already? Nice. We've been doing well with school and regular life, but I haven't had time to think or write. All of our busyness went really well, with all kinds of complications thrown in to parts of it... does that make any sense?

Today I'll post some random photos and quotes from the past month, and then I'll try to do a more factual report on some of the busyness that happened last month later.

Bogdan has been hilarious lately. He's talking so much! It's still his own brand of language, but we easily understand him. Here are translations of just a few things he said to me one evening recently:
  • "Can I kill a cat with my fingernails? No? Then I'll have to use a sword."
  • "How do ants go to sleep?* What hats do ants wear? But they have to wear hats in the winter!"
  • "When it's dark my eyes are scared." Your eyes? "Yes, they tell me that there are monsters there and there and there and there." A few minutes later.... "May I go outside in the dark?" Won't it be scary? "No, I won't let my eyes tell me about the monsters."
*A favorite theme here lately: "How does [whoever/whatever] go to sleep?"

Now, photos....

Being silly with new slippers
Beautiful, blue sky! It's been very rare lately.
A friend's photos of the fog, down by the river
It's been almost all fog and clouds for at least the second half of the month. An American engineer was supposed to come and start on plans for the homes for kids who grow out of the Tsyurupinsk orphanage. My friend went to Odessa to meet his flight, and had to stay there for three days, while he was stuck in Turkey because of the fog on this end. I tried to help from this here, and spent a few crazy days trying to track flights, facilitate communication, and see about different plans. At the last minute, because my friend was still in Odessa, I also got to be the one to make the trip out to pick up Oksana and another boy who was coming to Kherson to visit for a holiday week. That ended up being an interesting trip. That's a different story, though. The engineer finally made it on a flight straight to Kherson, and had a packed 36-hour visit to do what he could.

I said to get ready for school...
He told Bogdan that he has four eyes.
We also had Oksana over for one FUN evening, after all the busyness here, and before she left for America:

Like I said, sunshine has been rare.
He just wanted to eat outside.
So, that's some of what has been happening around our home. I can write about other events later.

Oh, right now there's a mama adopting a little girl I know. She's also working on two other adoptions in two other regions. Please pray for her and her family! I am so excited to see this little one get a family. She's like a toddler, but she's actually 16 years old, and has waited a very long time for this. The pictures of her with her new mama are just precious. I'll see if there are any that I can share, after the adoption is final.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Upcoming events

We have some busy days coming up. It's just school at home and Will at the office Mon-Wed. Then on Thursday Will has to take over at home. All day Thursday I'll be cooking with my friend to get ready for the banquets for the staff at the orphanage. The first of those banquets is Thursday evening, then Friday, and Saturday, too.

Also, we just found out that Raia has another concert to play in on Thursday. (I'm sad to miss it, but she doesn't mind. Will can record it for me.) And, a good friend from the missionary community here had an emergency appendectomy. As far as I know, we're only doing one meal to help the family, but if their children need watching or anything more, we want to be able to help. Please pray for them. Our children adore this "auntie," and they're praying non-stop, too.

Then, in the next week: Monday will be another trip to the institutions where "graduates" live after the orphanage. Then on another day, soon after that, we'll be doing Christmas cookies with the kids at the orphanage. They look forward to that all year, and it's a big deal for them.

So, even if you don't hear from me, you'll know what we're busy with and can be praying. Thanks!

Friday, January 09, 2015

"Second Christmas"

I think I should clarify my usual Christmas explanation. I recently told an American that we celebrate both Christmases, and his eyes got really big about "all those presents." No, we don't usually give presents for Christmas. We celebrate Jesus' birthday twice, and have a lot of fun with that. We give each other presents for the New Year, though.

And I'll repeat my usual joke, too: our pastor in Moscow often said that celebrating both Christmases was a Biblical command. That's why the verse in Philippians says rejoice, "and again I say rejoice."

Our three older children went to a Christmas VBS program for the four days before Christmas. During that time Bogdan and I did a lot of baking. We made treats for our neighbors and for the soldiers who are on the border with Crimea. Bogdan also made one big gingerbread bear for his buddy at church, Denis.

For 'Nis
Bogdan really enjoying making his bear and taking it to Denis on Christmas Eve, the last day of VBS. And he even made a connection that I wouldn't have expected. We've been collecting money and little cars to take to some boys at an orphanage, for Jesus' birthday present. Bogdan said that giving "his Denis" the bear was also a present for Jesus.

Then, Christmas Eve at home...

And more cookie decorating
Christmas morning, before church
A few photos at home, after church:

"Christmas market," i.e. trading candy

Then, after Bogdan got a nap, we planned to go hear the youth from our church and other churches do a Christmas carol flashmob at the big mall. But we mixed up the time, and we were too late. Instead, we heard professionals perform. At least we got some Christmas carols.

And then we walked around. According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 is a sheep year, so the mall has live sheep among the decorations. That works for the Christmas theme, too. Bogdan loved the sheep (we all did!), and it may have been his first time seeing a real manger and hay. That's what he noticed anyway.

"Jesus slept there!"
This one made us laugh. It had to eat from the center each time.

We had dinner at a restaurant there.

Then we came home, and did some quick carolling of our own. Our Crimean Tatar neighbors were very surprised. Carolling is a tradition here, but apparently it was new for them? This is their first year on "mainland Ukraine" and outside of their own community. Our babushka neighbor loaded us down with treats; she knew about carolling, of course! It's something like trick or treating here. Although, we take treats to give out, too, so we do it backwards.

Christmas pie from Babushka O.
So, now Christmas is over. Regular life will be starting back up with school and all. (Tomorrow? Or Monday? I guess I need to make some phone calls!) We do still have lots of holiday busyness ahead, particularly banquets for the orphanage workers, Christmas cookies with the kids there, and maybe some other Christmas orphanage visits.

One more time: MERRY CHRISTMAS!