Family of Five!

Family of Five!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane!!

Wow…what a past 2 days it has been! We had a great 14 hour train ride instead of a 12 hour ride. We had a delay at 4am that caused us to get in later on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness the US Embassy was fine with us being late to our appointment. After the Visa appointment, we went back to the SDA to finalize some more paper work and got to look at all the souvenirs lined up on the walkway. On our way back to Karen’s house, Eryna got car sick and threw up. I thought I had it under control because I had a bag ready but never thought to check for holes. There were two holes in it which meant that the fluid went all over her lap and onto mine! We still had to go to the grocery store so she got to wear my jacket. Things were going great till we got back to the apartment. Eryna thought it was time to show us another side of her. She was trying to eat and touch everything in her path like a 2 year old. After her eating lunch and eating my lunch as well, she was still fighting us for food. We had to hide everything and couldn’t keep our eyes off her. I have someone to compete with now. Anyone who knows me well knows that I enjoy taking bites of everyone else’s food rather than eating my own. Well Eryna is the same way! She was very hyper too and I think it was because she was tired from the train and being in the car all day. She was asking over and over for a shower so we went ahead and did that early. She LOVES taking a shower. She just lays there as I spray water all over her. Her favorite part is smelling her hair when we are done. When Karen got home, Eryna right away wanted to help her cook dinner and she washed all the dishes when they were done. Glad she enjoys that because I would love a little cooks helper! Only Logan likes to help me cook and that tends to be more of a problem than a help. Bed time required a little more patience last night. Shawn laid with her so I could book our plane tickets. She was giving him a problem but eventually she went to sleep. I had a lot of problems trying to book our plane tickets. There were no more tickets to buy for Eryna. I stayed up till 12:30am trying to figure something out so we could get home. I finally went to sleep and told myself to just leave it in God’s hands and whatever is meant to be will happen.
Shawn left for the airport at 4am this morning. Last I talked to him, he was getting on his flight to Atlanta from Amsterdam. My dad said that the boys were so excited this morning that they were going to see their daddy today. I wish I could see their faces. I had to take Eryna to her medical appointment this morning and then off to the US Embassy. On the way, we received a phone call from Ukraine International stating that they had one ticket that became available for Eryna and we had to come pay for it within 2 hours.  We went straight there. Our God is an Awesome God! While at the US Embassy, I met another couple from California. They were adopting a precious 2 year old with down syndrome. I was happy to have someone to talk to while my child was running everywhere and acting like a child I didn’t know! I had just complemented her on how good she had been all day and then the second I wanted to have a conversation with an American couple, she decides to act up. I pray that she doesn’t act like that at the airport tomorrow while I am by myself with 4 carryon bags!  I honestly really don’t care how she acts because the end result will be seeing the boys and going home!! I am so thankful for this experience and everything God taught us through it all. As my journey ends tomorrow and we get to welcome our daughter to US soils…I ask you to pray for Eryna and the new changes she will experience along with the boys and their emotions as they get a new sister over-night.
Our flight plans are as follows, we leave
Ukraine at 6:25 am (11:25pm Thursday night US time),
Arrive in Amsterdam at 8:20am (1:20am US time)
Leave for Atlanta at 11:05am (4:05am US time)
Arrive in Atlanta at 2:45pm
Leave for Miami at 4:17pm and arrive in Miami at 6:16pm!!! YAY!
Since our train was delayed, Eryna went back to sleep. She is a good sleeper

Eryna's first popsicle. She didn't like biting it!

Eryna and I with the best facilitator in the world...Natalia!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fantastic day!

I just have a moment to update while here at a cafe. Everything went absolutely perfect today! I got to spend a whole day with Eryna at the church and walking around while Shawn got to handle all the paper work. We have Eryna's new birth certificate, new passport, and our 12-hour train tickets purchased for tonight! Tomorrow we get to visit the US Embassey which Shawn is very excited about and get her visa! Shawn will travel home on Thursday and I hope to be on a flight Friday with our daughter. Thank You everyone for your prayers and support!

Monday, September 26, 2011

We have a baby girl!!

We have a new baby girl!! Well not so much a baby age wise but a baby in our eyes. We were able to pick up Eryna from the orphanage today at around 11am our time here. We first did some final paper work and of course the director was still giving us the guilt trip for taking Eryna. We then went and visited with her class and ate lunch with them. We brought a couple cakes and juice to have a little good-bye party with her friends. At 2:30pm, we were officially her parents as we walked out of the orphanage with our court decree stating that Shawn and I are Eryna’s parents! Happy Adoption Day to Eryna. It was a little difficult to get her to leave. She wanted all her friends to come with us and when we told her they can’t, she wanted to stay and asked us to just keep coming to visit her. Once she got in the car, she looked out the window like a little puppy does. Her eyes never left looking out the window and she was just amazed by everything she saw. This was her 2nd time in a car/moving vehicle since she was 1 years old. We did have to go to a couple different places for more paper work and she kept asking if the place was her new home. She was so confused and worried the whole time. Eryna asked Oksana if we were going to hurt her and where are we taking her. My heart broke at that moment. I knew today would be hard but it just seemed too hard at times. She was never difficult; she was just sad and confused. I would sit in the silence of the car ride and just pray that she would feel our love and God’s love and know that we would never hurt her. That God has a wonderful life planned for her and we get to share all that great news with her! I can’t wait to get to Kiev and stay with Karen so she can help translate for us and begin to start planting the seed!!
Eryna wasn’t crazy about the jeans we got her. She said they were too big but they were actually just perfect. I think it’s because she is so used to having everything tight that the jeans felt so loose to her. We bought her some stockings today to go under the jeans because the temperatures really dropped this morning. I hope that helps the jeans feel a little tighter. After all the paperwork, Eryna was really looking forward to eating and we got to take her to her first restaurant! It was nothing fancy, it is actually a little mom and pop restaurant that a Christian family own and we love their food. Eryna did too! She is already more like her momma and got food all over her new clothes. The second we got back to the church, she wanted to take it all off and start to hand wash them. I told her that I can do it and my way is easier (the washing machine!) Next was shower time. Oh that was so much fun! She absolutely loved it. She was laying down in the tub and having me spray the water all over her. When I scrubbed her head with shampoo, she was saying “Ahhh”. After the shower, she kept smelling her skin and hair and would have a big smile on her face. She had a good time going through all of our bags and seeing what goodies she can find. When I got out of the shower, she had to do everything I was doing such as putting on lotion, brushing my hair, and she even handed me my toothbrush because Shawn had just brushed her teeth. Poor thing is not going to like the dentist. All of her gums were bleeding and she didn’t let Shawn brush them for too long. You can tell she has never really brushed her teeth. I had went down stairs to call my mom and she made Shawn bring her to me. I got to put her on the phone and she said “Hi Nonny” after about 10 tries! When we got back up to the room, she asked where Ethan and Logan are. Shawn and I looked at each other and about lost it. So glad that we finally get to see them this week and they can finally meet their new big sister! Bed time wasn’t too bad. She wanted Shawn and I to lay down too and she had to sleep next to some food she had found. She was asleep in about 15minutes. She was so exhausted from today. I assume she is still sleeping as I snuck out to come type this up and post it. I have so much more to say but I bet I have bored you already. Tomorrow is a big day and please pray that everything goes smoothly so we can travel to Kiev on Wednesday to get home by Friday.
Shawn reading Eyrna her first bed time story!

Our last picture at the orphanage. So glad we don't ever have to go back there!

Eryna with her friends/classmates and our not-so-friendly caregiver.

We got to take Eryna to her first playground off
orphanage grounds. She loved it all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post from Saturday and Sunday...No internet past 2 days

Weddings are pretty popular right now here in Slavyansk.  We were able to attend our second one yesterday which was a surprise to us. We knew Pastor and his family was going to one but we were going to be at the orphanage. When we got to the church, we were going to go upstairs to use the wifi to skype with the boys. Pastor Peter stopped us and asked us to join them and eat. I was embarrassed because we were in street clothes but they are so wonderful here and we never feel judged. I especially know this because we have worn the same four outfits for a month and no one has said a thing!! (I know what you are thinking….we can’t even understand them so how do we know. Ha ha) The second we sat down, three different women came to us and started spooning all kinds of food onto our plates. They like to see us eat here. I just think they feel bad for us because we have been eating nutella and jelly sandwiches for a month! Their hospitality and generosity has made us feel like we are around family and friends. 
After the wedding, we came back to Pastor’s house and had a lot of fun with the kids. Shawn gave the boys punching lessons and the boys gave us Russian lessons. We have had an amazing time here and it has helped with us missing our boys. We hate to feel like an inconvenience on the family but they continue to ask us to stay. Even the older daughter Joana asked us tonight to stay another night so she can continue to practice her English.
This morning we went to church service. I would love to have it all translated because it seems so interesting and I know we would learn a lot. After the service, we sat in the cafĂ© and drank coffee with some teenagers. A couple could speak a little English and they were asking us about America. Two girls said that it is their dream to go to New York and they wanted to know how much the plane tickets cost. They also asked us if there are a lot of stores and pretty lights at Christmas time. They all are very intrigued by the United States and are very determined to learn the language. We then came back to the Pastor’s house and ate lunch. I asked if Tamara could give me some receipes because all her food is so delicious and different than ours. She laughed and said I can have them if I could speak Russian. So I guess that won’t work. We allowed Tamara and Pastor Peter to nap today and we stayed up and played with all the kids. They had their cousins here as well so we had a total of 7 kids to play with. I hope they got some sleep because we were kind of loud when playing with the kids. David, their 13 year old cousin, played the piano for us and I was so amazed. It took me awhile but I was able to convince him to let me video tape him. The pedal on the piano was squeaky so you can hear that in the video but it is still worth listening to.

Joana, Ramina, Tamara, Dima, Pastor Peter, Thomas (Pastor and his family)
The two little ones are adopted. Dima is the one from the video a couple days ago.

Ramina adored Shawn and used him as her playground.

Shawn getting his workout with Thomas

Dima actually faught really good and gave Shawn a real match.

One of the girls in Eryna's class did her hair yesterday. An 8 year old did this!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We had another wonderful visit at the orphanage yesterday. We pray that when we get home Eryna continues to enjoy us as much as she does now! J Our favorite caregiver was there yesterday so we were able to stay longer than usual. We did crafts with her yesterday. Since we bought scissors and glue for the class, Eryna has been enjoying cutting pictures from her coloring book and using the glue to put them back together. I don’t think she has ever been able to use these items before. I love that she enjoyed doing a craft! We will be doing many more when we get home.  It was very hard to leave. It keeps getting harder and harder to leave her. So thankful that in two days we will never have to leave her again.
After the orphanage, we went to Friday night church service. This is our favorite service because it is mainly worship songs and we can understand some of them. We also enjoy hearing Pastor Peter speak because he has so much enthusiasm. We just wish we could understand him! This morning at breakfast, we asked him what he spoke about and he was able to tell us a little about it. His daughter is also here from college and she is studying English so she was able to translate most of the conversation.  Their home is very lovely and Tamara is a wonderful cook. We stayed up late last night talking to their daughter. We kept asking her if she wanted to go to bed and she would say no because we were helping her “study” by just talking to her!! We had her read something in English and she did so well. She articulated the words better than we would. This morning Pastor Peter’s father joined us for breakfast. He is a pastor as well and loves to sing. During breakfast, he serenaded us in songs and one was “How Great Thou Art”. He sang it beautifully. The only downfall staying here is that we have no internet. We have been so spoiled being at the church and having internet to call our family back home. Last night I had a hard time going to sleep because I missed talking to the boys. We have been able to talk to them every day since being here and yesterday was the first day not talking to them. We came back here to the church today after being at the orphanage so that we could post this and call the boys.
The girls in Eryna’s class have been distant from us lately and have seemed sad. We noticed it the past two times but thought maybe they are sick or something. Yesterday, all the other girls had new school uniforms on except for Eryna. I am sure this caused for them to ask questions and maybe they were told Eryna is leaving and we are taking her from them.  I wish I could take all the girls in her class. They are all so precious. I wish I could ask what their status is with adoption so I could get some of you out there to adopt them! Start praying because I am already praying for God to place the desire on some of your hearts!  The one girl that is normally close with us was crying today when we were leaving so seeing that hurt me pretty bad. We asked the caregiver today (our favorite one) if she was going to be working on Monday or Tuesday so we could say goodbye and she won't be back till Wednesday. She asked when we were taking Eryna to America and we said on Tuesday (too much to try to translate that we have to go somewhere else first) and one if the little girls in her class started to clap and said.."Yay...Era, America!" It was cute but I am sure a sad moment for them. We are going to miss all of the girls.
Shawn got a kick out of this....they put tree limbs
in holes here so you won't fall in. Great idea!

We found "Operation Christmas Child" boxes today.
Glad to see that they make it here!

Eryna's crafts we made yesterday!

The girls were cracking up because Shawn was pretending to
throw up on the merry go round! They think he is so funny!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today was an uneventful day. I am still not feeling well so we stayed back at the church. We had planned to go to the Children’s Home today but with me not feeling well we didn’t think it would be good to be around the children. Shawn went out and walked around because he was bored. I did need some fresh air at one point so we went to a Second Hand store across from the church to look at clothes for Eryna. I was so happy because they actually had a good assortment and we got what we needed for her to wear next week.  Shawn ran into Pastor Peter last night and he let us know that the church is going to need our room this weekend so we will be going to stay at his house. I am not sure if they have internet so I apologize ahead of time if we do not keep up to date on the blog this weekend. Since I don’t have much more to say, I found this story on a friend’s facebook page today that I would like to share.  Also below are videos from our visit yesterday with Eryna.

When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his Biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits." Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your momma put in a long hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides... a burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!" You know, life is full of imperfect things... and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each others faults and choosing to celebrate each others differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. So...please pass me a biscuit. And yes, the burned one will do just fine!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Today was pretty normal, still exciting though. I think Allison and I are starting to realize that the end of all the hurry up and wait is drawing closer to an end. So we are getting excited about the day that we can bring Eryna home and enjoy our new daughter more often. It is hard to have to go and leave her every day. Every visit I find something more about Eryna that I love. Whether it be her playfulness, generosity, kindness, sassiness or respect for other people. It is hard to leave that each day. I can’t wait to go for that last time and say, “ Eryna lets go home.”  This whole trip has been amazing in every sense of the word. We have been so fortunate have the kindness of so many individuals that made this trip easier and enjoyable.  This trip has been great, but we can’t wait to bring Eryna to her new home in our hearts. Our oldest son Ethan actually made a calendar last night with the amount of days I have left here.  He is marking every day so he knows when we will be home. I am planning on coming home on the 29th so we can save some money in a flight change fee. Allison and Eyrna will be on home on the 30th  or October 1st. Here are some pictures of Eryna from today’s visit. We will post some new video we have tomorrow. Keep Allison in your prayers. Her body has been very achy today and she has a really bad headache. We hope these are not the start of flu symptoms.

Helping Eryna open a new puzzle! She was very excited!

She finished the new puzzle in minutes. At the end, she took the last
couple pieces so wevcouldn't help her. Miss Independent!

Silly Kids!

Eryna with our favorite caregiver, Victoria!
Ethan with his 9 day countdown!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I just realized that we never talked about our visit with Eryna yesterday. When we made it there from our first venture on the bus, Eryna was going to take a shower. When we were done, I was expecting her to come out smelling all nice and her hair all soft but that wasn’t the case. Her hair was barely wet and I think she was just sprayed off with water. I can’t wait to get her in my arms and shower her with love and soap forever!! I know they aren’t used to scents because every day she takes a baby wipe that I have and wipes her face and arms till the wipe is no longer wet. I was able to brush her hair and braid it which that always makes me a happy momma. We brought her a new puzzle (she loves puzzles!) and we were able to complete it in no time. She is so good at puzzles. I am looking forward to doing big puzzles with her that take us hours!! During our visit, the caregiver on staff that day is one that we don’t care for very much. She always gives us an attitude and doesn’t like us to visit with Eryna for more than an hour. Well today we found out why. The caregiver stayed in the room with us (that’s another thing with her, she never lets us be alone with Eryna) and the girl we brought from church was talking to her while we were visiting. After we left, we asked Elissa what the caregiver was talking about and she said that she does not like us because we are taking away a child from her country. She said that she does not understand why we would want a child from there and asked how much we were getting paid for taking her. I wish I could have told her how much we have to pay for the adoption! She also said that every time someone adopts, it takes away their money and that we are making their country worse off. Families say they are going to send updates to the orphanage and they never do so the orphanage thinks that we sell the kids for their organs. Shawn and I prayed for her last night in hopes that her eyes will be opened and she will see that we love Eryna so much already and that we will be able to provide a loving home and family for her. We are definitely going to send updates so they have a positive experience to look back on and maybe it will help their view with adoptions.
                We went to the Children’s Home again today. I have fallen in love with the kids even more now. We took them for a walk again and had the best time. On the way back, a little boy was walking hand to hand with Shawn and I had the time of my life watching them. The boy was being so silly and kept talking to Shawn and Shawn would respond back to him in English. The little boy would crack up laughing and they kept doing it over and over. That has been the biggest life changing moment since being here. We have such a huge language barrier with everyone we come in contact with yet I feel closer to some of the people here then people I can talk to on a daily basis. It’s just the connection we have through Christ. We can see each other’s heart and talk to each other in love. This is especially true with Eryna and the children we have come to love. We have never had a full conversation with Eryna yet I feel like we have known her our whole life. She is and has been our daughter. God has answered our prayers from day one and has placed us in her heart. I want to express our love for this place but I can’t find the words. One day I hope I can sit down and put it all in words.  Until then, just know we have been blessed by our Lord and we could have not gone one day without praising Him for all that we have.
                We forgot our camera the past two days so no new pictures but promise to get some tomorrow. Here are some pictures of our two love bugs back at home that we have been getting sent to us while being gone. My parents, sister, brother and family, and close friends have been amazing with loving our boys to pieces. We could not have put our time and attention into this adoption if it wasn’t for all of them making sure our boys have been taken care of from day one. We get pictures daily and our most treasured time is at midnight here when we get to skype with them. That is the moment we look forward to every day (and going to the orphanage!). Enjoy these lovely photos of our sweet, sweet boys!
Our wake-up call this morning! Love his smile!

Ethan caught a snapper at the fishing tournament!

Logan caught a snapper too!

They love being on the boat! I think we are going
to buy a house boat and maybe they will be happy all the time!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another home cooked meal!

We did a lot of walking today!! We first woke up and wanted to take the long walk from the church to the market to get a little bit more supplies. They were nice enough to give us some leftovers from the wedding that will give us about two more dinners. So we still needed to get some milk and other things for breakfast and of course some more chocolate! That walk is a good half hour to walk to. We did that walk there and then back to the church to meet up with Elissa to show us how to take the bus to the orphanage.  So now we can take the bus and save some money that way too. We wish we wouldn’t have listened to some people who told us not to take the bus because we actually didn’t mind it today and enjoyed the ride. Especially the part that it only costs us $3 for both of us to ride compaired to the $30 by taxi. We will only be taking the bus about 3 more times to the orphanage because the other days we are going to volunteer at the children’s house and we will be taking a different bus there. We were originally going on Tuesday and Thursday to the Children’s house but now they have asked if we can come more so we are going Tuesday through Friday now.  We are excited about that. It makes the day go by faster and we love the kids.
                Tonight we went to Tamara and Pastor Peter’s house. They have 2 biological children and have adopted 4. Their house was so beautiful and we totally forgot to take pictures. We had such a wonderful time. Tamara cooked eggplant lasagna with a salad. For dessert she made cheesecake and had some yummy chocolate we hadn’t tasted yet. Our bellies were so full and we were just so happy to have another home cooked meal. We sat at the table for a while just talking about our adoption process and then they shared with us about their ministry. Pastor Peter works for the church but also for the “You will be found” adoption ministry. With this ministry, they try to find Ukrainian Christian homes for children that become available from the Children’s home or are already in an orphanage. I have included a video of children’s stories from the Children’s Home. The first child who speaks is Dima. Pastor Peter and Tamara have adopted him since this video. The two girls who speak after him are since the adopted daughters of Eva and her husband.  Words can’t even express how appreciative we are for the people from this church. It makes me re-evaluate how we open up our homes to outsiders and what we can do better to make people feel welcome.  Below is the web-site that helps both the “You Will Be Found” ministry and the “Children’s Home” ministry. Please look at it. It has a lot of information and video’s about the wonderful things God’s people are doing here in Ukraine.         

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Videos from the Wedding

Here are the videos from the wedding. The first one is of the wedding party doing a version of our "revolution of dance". It's funny because they like our music just as much as we do. They played an equal amount of Ukrainian music as they did American pop songs.
The second video is of Shawn participating in a little game they had at the wedding. Each table was given a quote and the table had to read the quote to the bride and groom. While reading it, you needed to add something to it and use expression. So our table thought it would be funny that Shawn says random things in English and then Pastor Peter (Tamara's husband, a Pastor at the church) would "translate" and say what should have been said, in Russian. Everyone thought it was funny. Poor Shawn was so embarrassed.

The Wedding. Post by Shawn!

Yesterday we did something that we never get to do at home, sleep in. The boys make that a daily struggle when we are at home. Just ask Tim and Cindy, they know now. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for all that you are doing to make this possible. Eryna didn’t see us Friday, so I think she got more excited yesterday when she saw us. When she first saw Allison she came running down the hall and almost knocked her over. After the big hug, she kept kissing her face. It was a very precious moment. One of the pastors from the church was nice enough to give us a ride to the orphanage. We’re trying to help our money last so this pastor said he could drive us for less than our other driver.  We have also decided to go to the orphanage every other day instead of everyday to help as well.  So anyway, Eryna and I had a lot of fun together. She seems to be getting more and more comfortable with us and we are as well. We got her new clothes in the market on Friday, so we tried them on her. The jeans fit good, but I think the shirt we got her is a little small. It was good to see what sizes fit and what didn’t. It’s been nice with Eryna now because the caregivers give us our own time with her without the other kids. I enjoy the one on one time with Eryna. She can’t get enough of riding on my shoulders. I enjoy it too, but I don’t know how long I will be able to physically do it. I feel like I need neck surgery already. She is an amazing girl and I can’t wait to bring her home.

                Today we went to church and had another friend from the church translate for us. Eva left today on vacation to her home country of Switzerland. This guy is very nice. He actually came from a whole other church just so that he could translate for us which I thought was really nice. That is the one thing that has truly been a God send is all the people’s generosity and willingness to help people they don’t even know. It has made our trip so much more enjoyable and inspirational. I have met some of the kindest people at this church and I can’t even understand what most of them say!!  You can just feel the heart of Jesus pouring out of them. Some of the people don’t know any phases in English other than the one phase they learned so they could personally say it to us, “We are glad you are here.”  Right after that they say, “that is all I know of English”. But that is enough for me.  The Ukraine has some great people. The service in church today was actually different. A young couple had their wedding as part of the sermon. It was very pretty and a traditional Ukrainian Christian wedding. A couple hours after the service was the reception. It started at 3pm and ended at 10pm. Wow! The amount of food they had on the tables was amazing! We haven’t seen that much food during the whole time we have been here. Everything was very different but very good. We wanted to make to-go plates! The reception is so long because they do a lot of things during it such as games, dances, songs are sang to the couple from other people, the bride sings songs to the groom, etc.  At the end, everyone went outside to a display of the couple’s name. All of a sudden, the names lit up in sparklers and fireworks went off. The fireworks were really big ones and they were scaring Allison because they were going off very close to us. We had a wonderful time and another new experience to add to our memories.

Our translator at church today....Erik!

Eryna in her new clothes...we need a bigger shirt though!
Allison let her hair down so we could see how long it is!
The assortment of food on our table at the wedding reception!

The Wedding during church service

Their names lit up outside in sparklers

One of the fireworks!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A day in the market!

We had another nice day here in Ukraine.  It was very chilly this morning but warmed up throughout the day. Eva met us at the church this morning and we had our first experiences on the city buses. We first walked to the bus stop to take a bus to the bus station. At the bus station they have a store called “second hand” which is like our goodwill. We looked there for clothes for Eryna. Since the clothes here are very expensive, this was our only option. We only got a couple things because I need to take them to the orphanage to make sure they fit. Once we know her size here, I will go back and get more. We then took a bus to the train station to go souvenir shopping at a ceramic market. That was really neat. They had all kinds of stuff to buy and some really neat items. There was a couple things we would have loved to get but not enough room in our bags to bring home. We found a coffee mug with Eryna’s name on it in Russian. On the back it had a message of what her name means. It fit her perfectly…Peace, quiet, independent, and hard worker.  I had to get it! I have been trying to find her small things from here that on her adoption day every year, we can give her a gift from her country.  We then went to the food market and got some fresh fruit to bring to the orphanage.  On our bus ride back to the church, an older lady was coming on to the bus with a small cart and there were no seats left so I immediately got up to give her the seat. The bus driver started to raise his voice at her and they got into a little argument. I thought it was over that she had no money because she did look like she didn’t have very much. She was very dirty and her clothes were in bad shape. I reached into my purse to get money out and Eva told me that it was okay, it wasn’t about the money. The whole trip I kept trying to figure out why someone would be so mean to a little brail lady. I eventually got a seat and just sat there and prayed for the lady. I almost began to cry and just wanted to give her my clothes or do something for her. Just as we got off the bus, we asked Eva what happened. She said that the lady rides that bus each day and one of the times her cart somehow damaged the bus and the bus driver had to pay for the damage. The driver said she was no longer welcome on his bus but she insisted she had to get on because she had no other way home; there is only one bus that goes to her area. She brings a cart each time because she has her own garden and that’s how she brings the items to the market to sell each day. This is the only way she can afford to live because they don’t get very much for retirement. Eva said it’s hard there because everyone has to think about themselves because nobody has money to help someone else. The bus driver didn’t want her on anymore because any damage she causes, the money comes out of his pay. His pay is just enough or not even enough to support his family. We think our economy is bad….it is really bad here.

Last night, Shawn and I had to sit down and really go over our money because we are coming up short. The amount we were expecting to spend here has gone up a lot because the orphanage is far away. Each day our cab ride has been the amount it should be normally for a whole week of traveling. Being here at the church has been a huge blessing to save costs and Eva has helped us with getting someone to teach us the bus system on Monday to go to the orphanage to save money that way as well. My point in sharing this is that I believe it was meant to be for the little lady to come on to the bus today to remind me that we have so much in comparison to so many other people in this world. Just the luxury of having not one car but two cars. It is rare for people to have cars here. You should see how far they have to walk to just get to a bus or a small store that has a small selection of food.  Though we have not heard one person complain. The weather has been perfect for us but we hear how bad it gets in the winter. They don’t have snow blowers, or someone to shovel the sidewalks to make a way to walk to and from. People have to decide during winter to either spend money to eat or spend money to stay warm. They don’t even have enough to do both. Please pray that the bus system will work for us next week so that we can save some money to be able to buy things for the children’s home or the orphanage that Eryna is staying at.
Shawn had his first international hair cut!
It was only $4! She did a great job too!

We found a Curves around the corner from the church!
Wonder how much they charge...I could use some exercise! :)

Ukraine is famous for their borsh. This was his
first time trying it. It is made of beets,
carrots, potatoes and cabbage. For two people
who do not like was very good!

This is our new friend Eva from Slaviansk.
An angel sent to us from God! She has been
so helpful to us while being at the church.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Court Date Done!

We are done with our court hearing!! Everything went perfect...actually too perfect. The judge didn't even show up. We went into the court room and the lady from the court came in and was talking for a while to our translator and I was getting really nervous that something was wrong. After about 5 minutes, Oksana turned to us and said that today was our lucky day. We just had to sign some papers and we were done. The judge said that everything was good to go and we could leave! Our translator said that in the 10 years she has been doing this, that has never happened to her before. They were saying that he was probably still drunk from a night of drinking and didn't want to come in! Drinking here is very common, people walk down the street drinking beer all hours of the day. The beer is actually cheaper than the water. We even found 2 liters of beer for sale in the grocery store. We couldn't believe it. After court, we went to the orphanage to visit our precious little girl. She is getting more and more attached to Shawn. I get a little jealous but then I remember that I have two momma boys at home so I get over it! The caregiver asked if we could purchase some craft items for them to make stuff with. She showed us all around the 3rd floor where the older kids live and we saw all the crafts they had made during the years. Eryna 's class has nothing in their room so she wants to make stuff to hang up. So Shawn and I went to a stationary store and bought some items for them. I hope I can help one day! We are pretty tired still from our walk yesterday and the activity today so we are going to make this short and head to bed right when we are done skyping to the boys! Enjoy the video's I was finally able to upload!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our Mountain Hike by Shawn!

The mountains in the distance was our destination!

Today was pretty tiring. When we got back to the room at like 5pm we both took a 2 hour nap. You will know why when I done. The woman that we met here at the church, Eva, invited us to her Christian Children’s home that her and husband runs. Mainly to give us something to do for the day and to meet some really cool kids. Parents that are having a tough time with finding work or addictions, or anything difficulties with caring for their child come to the center and they help anyway they can. The main way they help is when the parents have to work two jobs just to stay afloat and battling an addiction; they give a place the kids can sleep, eat, and learn. So the kids stay, play, learn, and eat all at the center for them during the week and the parents that are still involved will take them on the weekend. The centers’ focus is not to take the kids from their parents, but to rather help the parents with whatever they are struggling with in their life so they can keep their family together. The center has 4 shows a year and during that time, they try to witness to the parents about God. Through this program, they have been able to get parents back on their feet and into church.  

                This center was a great facility for these kids. We went early in the morning, so only the preschoolers were there. They were awesome, so full of life and spirit. It made us really miss the boys. Especially all the little toe heads running around. We got the grand tour of her school and then we were asked if we would like to take a little walk with the kids. Our response was SURE!  WE would LOVE TO! That was a mistake! They said a walk, not a 23 mile hike through the mountains. Haha. It wasn’t that bad, but man what a walk. We walked through this big field and up this big hill to where we stopped and had a little picnic. The kids loved it. The hike there was probably 2 ½ to 3 miles there and the same back. I’ll tell ya, those kids never complained once.  Man we just wanted a huge glass of water and a nap at the end of it, and those kids were still a mile a minute. The scenery was so beautiful. The pictures don’t give it too much justice. All we kept saying to each other was, “The boys would love this.” Man that was a big “little walk”, but we really enjoyed it.  It has been nice enjoying the walks everywhere.

                After all that fun, we left for the orphanage to see Eryna. She was in such a better mood today. She seems to have gotten over her little stomach bug. We got to have a great time with just her doing puzzles, and English flash cards. We have another video today with her sitting on my lap doing English letters and talking on her fake phone we got her. She always gets shy when she knows when we’re taping or taking a picture of her.  We got to spend a good couple hours with her today. I love our one on one time with her but it’s not always like that. A lot of times her other class mates come barging in and they want to play too. It’s nice but it takes away a bit from our bonding as parents and child. I still feel every day we have that we get closer and closer as a family. Everyday Eryna takes more and more of me with her. She is our little girl. (We will post the videos tomorrow, the internet was not cooperating)

Shawn helped all the kids get up the moountain

Someone lined up rocks that were a symbol of "I love you"

The houses in the distance is where we started!

Allison's new loves! We want to bring them all home!!

The front of the Children's home. They just got funding
to insulate the building right in time for winter!

The playground that was built from the church
Eva was raised in Switzerland.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A video from our visit yesterday!

Here are two little clips of play time with Eryna. You can view them by clicking on the links below. Hope you enjoy seeing the laughter and smiles come from our gift from God!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Home made dinner!!

We had a very nice visit with Eryna tonight. We had Olga with us from the TBN network who videotaped our visit. We are now fortunate to have video that we can watch and see our daughter anytime of the day. Thankfully she was feeling better and she was a little more playful than during the weekend. After we left, we went to Eva’s house to eat dinner. We had a wonderful time. Her husband made us Ukrainian food that was delicious and she made us a dessert from Switzerland. Eva is originally from Switzerland and went to live in Washington for a couple years during her college years and then went to back to Switzerland. She was then asked to go on a mission trip to Ukraine and felt that this is where God was leading her to do mission work. She then moved here and worked at the Children’s home (Christian Orphanage) and met her husband. They have two daughters that they were just able to adopt in May. One is 8 and the other is 9 years old. They are such a sweet couple and had a very cute home. We did have our first scary moment here. We had to get a cab to come back to the church so we walked to the train station to get one. Eva told us to be quiet and she will do all the talking. We got in the cab, paid the man, and then we were on our way. I kept wanting to talk to Shawn and he wouldn’t answer me, he told me to stop talking so the man wouldn’t know that we are American. Are you kidding me….if he didn’t know we were American then he was blind! He went through a dark street that I wasn’t familiar with and I kept thinking…this is it, he is going to take us away for ransom. I even got the phone out and was ready to call someone in case something happened. Well you obviously know the ending, we made it back safely! Now I know why they say not to go out at night…it was very dark and just too scary for me!
Wednesday, Eva is going to take us to the Children’s home to visit and on Friday we are going shopping for clothes for Eryna! I am sad that they are leaving this weekend for 4 weeks to vacation in Switzerland. I am gonna miss her. We really felt at home tonight and we would have loved for her girls to meet Eryna. Maybe they will come to Florida one day! (Was hoping to post a video along with this but it didn't work..sorry. Since we miss our boys so much and we didn't get any new pictures today, thought I would post some funny pictures I had on the computer of the boys) My mom reads the posts to Ethan every night and Ethan said to me the other day.."Mommy, why don't you have any pictures of me?" So here you go Ethan, your not gonna laugh at this one day so let me do it now! Love you boys so much!

Trying on daddy's underwear!! Silly boy

Of course...Logan has to get into everything! It wasn't funny this time because
they were permanent markers!

Hope they stay this close forever!

I took a break from writing yesterday because I now have the cold that Shawn has been struggling with this whole trip! We have both started taking an Amoxicillin hoping we can fight this soon. It was also our 7th Anniversary so we had a special dinner of cheese sandwiches and watched Dateline NBC on our computer!! We have not been able to watch anything on the internet because it will not open over here; it says that the region we are in does not have permission to play the shows. We were able to open Dateline NBC so we were pretty excited about that. With yesterday being the anniversary of 9/11, we watched the show they played on Friday night remembering the day. We went to the church service yesterday morning at where we are staying. Eva (she speaks English!) found us and had us sit next to her. The worship was amazing and they actually sang two songs that we sing at our church. The only difference was that it was in a different language. Shawn and I were trying to sing it in English but we kept getting mixed up. Then during the sermon, Eva translated to us what the pastor was saying. I felt bad for the people around us but I sure was thankful that she was translating because I really enjoyed what he was saying.  I really needed church that morning. The night before I was struggling with some thoughts I was having about the adoption. Nothing bad but I just didn’t like what I was thinking so I spent a lot of time in prayer during worship. I really felt God’s presence during that time and I was able to leave with a peace about it all. I can’t express how happy I am that we are here at this church.  After service, Eva invited us over for dinner Monday night. We are going to the orphanage at 3:30pm to be tapped with Eryna and then we will have our driver drop us off at her house. We can’t wait to have a home cooked meal! One exciting thing I was able to do yesterday was laundry in a washer!! At the hotel we didn’t have a washer and it was very expensive to have our clothes washed so we only paid for a couple items to be washed and I washed the rest by hand! I had Shawn take a picture because I know some of you won’t believe me. J  The washer here is down 3 levels and it takes 2 hours to wash but I sure got my exercise checking on it! They have no dryers here in Ukraine so we had to hang dry our clothes which wasn’t bad because it made our room smell good! Below are the pictures!

Hand washing in the shower!
Drying clothes the good ole' fashion way!
A picture from a couple days ago that I forgot to show.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shawn's Birthday!!

Today is Shawn’s 30th Birthday! We celebrated it with the family back in Homestead the day before we left. Today is just as special because we get to celebrate it with our daughter. We started the day out with taking a walk into the center of town to get some groceries. It took us about 30minutes to get there so not too bad. When we got into the town, we noticed they were having a festival. They had tents all over selling lots of beer and food! The stage had dancers and singers performing and around the corner were kids running from ride to ride. It was very cold today, in the 50’s already! We had a great time watching families interact and having a great time. It made us really miss the boys and wish we had our family together there celebrating. The food smelled great so we wanted to try some. Our first tent we went to had kabobs and we tried to ask for some but of course the lady didn’t understand. We tried pointing and using gestures but she was getting upset that we couldn’t understand her so we left and went to a different tent. We tried some chicken and a kabob that we thought was chicken as well but it was pork. They were good but nothing special, it smelled better than it tasted. We found a neat little table where a lady was selling some hand-beaded flowers. I bought some for souvenirs and we are collecting stuff from here to give to Eryna every adoption day so she has stuff from her country. On the way back, we stopped and got a dessert and juice to bring to the orphanage for the kids to celebrate with us for Shawn’s birthday.
On the way to the orphanage, we got a call telling us that Eryna had been sick throwing up this morning and was in isolation. They told us we could still come but just wanted to let us know. My heart melted. My daughter was sick and I didn’t even know and wasn’t there for her. Our driver couldn’t drive fast enough to get me there. We went up to her room to ask where she was and thank goodness, the nurse was just bringing her back. We called a translator on the phone to ask the caregiver if she was better and what had been wrong. They said that she was doing better, she took a 2 hour nap, and wasn’t throwing up anymore. We could tell something was wrong, she wasn’t as excited to see us and she wasn’t very talkative. I felt so hopeless. I could talk to her but she had no clue what I was saying. I just kept hugging her and giving her a kiss on the head. We were able to get her to do a puzzle and wow…she is good! I am so excited! I love doing puzzles as well so now I have a puzzle buddy. As our time was up, she was getting back to being her goofy self. We didn’t bring in the food because I didn’t want her to feel left out if she wasn’t able to eat so we will celebrate tomorrow!
Today’s pictures are of the church we are staying at, the festival and our visit today!
Such a beautiful church!

This is the side of the church where all the offices are.

Here is our cozy room. We really like it!

Dancers at the festival

Shawn eating his birthday lunch at the festival!
Doing our first puzzle together

Best birthday present ever!