Friday, July 18, 2014

Good news from a land far away

I haven't written anything about Ukraine news lately. It is still very up and down, and still very sad on many days. In fact, lately it seems more bad news than good is coming out of the east. But, I wanted to write about something from a little while back that still makes me smile.

Back on June 7, when we were sitting in the hotel lobby resting with our friends, I quickly checked in online, and I saw news that had me in tears right away. Just a little over a year ago, I got to visit a friend for a few days, while she was adopting from a special needs baby orphanage in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. I fell in love with the children there. What I read said that their orphanage had been taken over by the fighters who are in that area now. We still don't know exactly what happened in that time. Were the separatists actually staying in the orphanage with the babies? Or coming and going and making threats? Whatever it was, it was bad. There was also a lot of fighting going on right around the orphanage. I cried a lot then as I read, and--with many other concerned people--I prayed a lot over the next few weeks.

Then, on June 30 I started hearing that those babies had been safely evacuated to Kharkov! And the biggest gift of all, was that I actually saw faces that I know and love in the videos circulating around the internet. In this time, when it's so hard to know what is rumor and what is truth, that was such a reassurance. Many of the articles seem to grab some stock orphanage photo from somewhere, and just slap it on with words that aren't related. These articles and videos were real. As I read more about where the babies ended up, I've been even more pleased. Their new (temporary?) home is a model orphanage for all the rest of Ukraine, and the doctor who has been interviewed online really seems to know and care about little ones with special needs. Maybe this is the answer to my prayers about a better future for Little L.? Maybe she'll survive here? (Keep praying for families for these sweethearts!)

I just had to share what I've been praising God for lately. Praise Him with me now, too! Also, don't stop praying for the people of Ukraine, especially the orphans, who are some of the very most vulnerable.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last bit of vacation

Remember the borsch that made Asya so happy? As she said, "in one day two of her dreams came true!" She had borsch and Papa bought her a pretty bag.

Raia and Asya with their bags
Two minutes after leaving the castle
Back down at the train station
While Bogdan slept, the others had fun with the luggage lady.
Dinner before leaving Mukachevo
Special treat for the train
Once again: BOBO!
And that's it. We slept on the train and woke up back down in the flat lands. Arrived in Odessa. Took a bus to Kherson, and we were home. Thanks for reading along!

The whole story:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The castle (Mukachevo)

This is the last little bit of vacation, even though it was a full month ago.  Then we can get on with regular (blog) life, birthdays, summer, etc.

One last swim
Shashlik for dinner
And then the next morning we left for Mukachevo. We came down out of the mountains on to flat land, but then there's one last bump...

...and it has a castle on it!
This picture really doesn't show how high it is.

We took our suitcase to the train station, and then started walking around. We had lunch in a nice little cafe, and Asya finally got some borsch. She had wanted it at McDonald's in Odessa on the way out, and was disappointed to find out that they don't serve it. And strangely, she didn't get any at the other places where we were, until this cafe.

Happy Asya
Bogdan is going to work here when he grows up.

After a little more walking around, we went up to the castle.

The deep well that they were looking at


Okay, that wasn't completely the last bit, because I still have a few photo highlights to share.

By the way, when we were up at the castle, we bumped into "old friends" and started chatting. Will had no idea how these strangers (to him) knew us. It was people we had met in the train on the way out! I had been on the train, alone with my little ones, and another mom had been traveling with her little girl, so we had helped each other out. Her little girl had to hold my hand for comfort in all tunnels. It was fun to see each other again, so randomly, at week later.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

True, funny, sad

A while ago I shared this photo on Facebook:

But I didn't have time to explain it. I just said that it's "true, funny, sad."

True: Every marshrutka (bus/van/"route taxi") has a sign in it that shows how many seats it has.

Funny: Then the sign tells how many standing places the marshrutka officially has. An honest sign would look like the one above. We really pack ourselves into them. Recently Raia and I were out during rush hour, so packed in that I felt like we were barely breathing. A girl next to us did pass out, and it seemed like it was because she couldn't get enough air. As soon as some of the other passengers dragged her out into fresh air, she came around. Sometimes it really does seem like an infinite number of people tries to get on one marshrutka.

Sad: The last part doesn't show up on real marshrutka signs, but it is the way things work here. There is just no place for the disabled in daily life. The kids I love so much at the orphanage I visit are there, pretty much because there's no other place for them. If they have families, it would be very hard for those families to care for them. I got to help someone who grew up in that orphanage come back for a visit, and we waited while many marshrutkas passed by, until a bigger bus with wider doors came. Then we were able to lift her in with her wheelchair. Definitely not easy. No real handicap access. Now that she's a young adult, she has to live in a nursing home away from regular life, too, just because her legs don't work.

(But...! My friend is starting work on two homes that will house at least some of these young adults and let them take part in normal life. Let me know if you're interested in hearing more about that and supporting this amazing project.)

Friday, July 04, 2014

Papa and Asya

Since I couldn't get one photo to post yesterday, I'm putting up two today.

"Look Mom, no hands!"

Thursday, July 03, 2014

A horse!

Back to the vacation story now, less distracted by blog and internet problems....

Our second day in Pavlovo, after another day started with frogs, toads, and tadpoles, Will arranged (at my request) for one of the local teens to rent us his horse for a little while. This teen was the only person we met in our time in western Ukraine who we really couldn't understand. He was rather shy and mumbly and couldn't understand us either, but he seemed quite glad to share his horse and make a little money. We did communicate some, but it was pretty funny.

Breakfast with toad
Bogdan's first tadpole
Drawing by Raia
Jaan caught...
...a BIG toad!
As I was saying, a horse....

Asya loved it!
They came to get us and go up to a field above where we were staying. Asya jumped on the horse and never looked back, riding all the way up. The rest of us climbed slowly up behind her.

Looking back

Once we got to the field, we all took turns riding around.

Bogdan was a little nervous when it was our turn.

Raia was not happy. Too scary!
But Jaan loved it.
And then Raia found a happy way to ride.
I posted this for the background.
Oops. The photo of Will riding with Asya didn't upload and won't go now. Maybe later?

Heading back down
Goodbye (scary) horse!
Out of four children, their opinions of their first time on a horse were
Asya: It was wonderful!
Jaan: It was wonderful!
Raia: Scary and wonderful.
Bogdan: Scary!
However, later, whenever we saw a horse, Bogdan would ask if he could ride on it. So, it must not have been too bad, even for him.

Also, the photo that I posted for its background... that evening, we went back up to the same field, picked wild strawberries, and followed a trail further up. I'll post photos of how beautiful it was up there later, too.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

(Under construction)

Yes, you're at the right place. The old pink blog template stopped working. (I never did like that pink. It was the butterflies that drew me to it.) So, now we're under construction. Maybe for a while. Time and a working internet connection are rare commodities for me right now.

Plus, I still haven't finished sharing about our vacation (horse riding, castle, and more!) and the wonderful picnic we had last week.


As part of my changing things, I'm archiving this sidebar photo:

From 2012!?!?

Here's the new one: