Unexpected Blessings: England!

Did you know that I could be the perfect criminal?  All these years earning money like an honest person, and I could have just been a thief! 😉  You see, unbeknownst to me, I have almost no fingerprints.  Yeah, I guess no one really pays attention to their fingerprints (or lack thereof) until they try to adopt.  Who would have thought that this biggest hurdle in our adoption process would be my fingertips??????  

For our adoption we have to have FBI clearance (which requires fingerprinting) and US immigration approval (which requires a separate fingerprinting process).  Easy peasy, if you have fingerprints.  We had our fingerprints taken with ink in Kyiv, at the Embassy, and then they were mailed to the US for processing.  My FBI prints were rejected first, for poor quality, so I had to fly to the US to have them redone.  Remember that?  Well, then my US immigration prints were rejected, soooooo Havalah and I flew to England last week to have them redone at the US Embassy in London.  At that embassy they have an electronic process with which you can do your prints over and over until you get high enough quality prints to be accepted.  I found out last Tuesday that the London Embassy would do my prints on Thursday, so Hava and I flew out last Wednesday.  

At first I was frustrated to have to fly to another country AGAIN, on behalf of my fingers, but we’ll do whatever we gotta do to get our baby home, so we decided to make a bit of a holiday out of it and enjoy ourselves in the process. 

     

We arrived in London on Wednesday afternoon and our appointment wasn’t until Thursday at 1:00, so we spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning exploring London and drinking in ALL THE ENGLISH being spoken everywhere.  It was awesome.  Going somewhere where you can understand everything is like a vacation for my brain.  It is a relief, and just a joy.  We had the best time.

               

We headed to the US Embassy with time to spare on Thursday and nervously awaited the staff member who would take me in for my infamous prints.  

It took some effort, that’s for sure.  The computer kept rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, and ultimately wouldn’t pass some of my fingers, but in the end the staff member assured me the prints he had captured were “good enough”.  SWEET RELIEF!!!!!!  I was nervous since I don’t understand the system and he hadn’t gotten a “pass” for all of my fingers, but in the end after 20 reassurances, I decided to trust him.  Haha.  

We celebrated by going to theater to watch a movie in English!  Such fun. 

One funny thing about this trip was seeing everything through Havalah’s eyes.  Although we’ve only beeen gone from the US for 18 months, that’s a long time for a little one.  Hava was only 4 when we left.  We were standing in line for our passport check when we arrived at the airport in London and when she heard people talking she said “Mom!  They know how to speak English here!”  The not so funny thing was the constant reminders to my rather outspoken daughter that yes, people speak English here, so yes, they can understand everything you say.  Oy.  

Her fascination with squirrels, common place in Oregon, but not common in Ukraine cracked me up.  She saw a Burger King sign and said “Hey!  I think I know that place!”   Her awe over all the green grass and amazingly in-repair sidewalks made me smile.  She made friends with strangers on every form of public transportation, living it up with her mad English skills.  What a sweetie.   

          

We did some more exploring on Friday morning, and then took an afternoon train north to Hull, to spend the weekend with some friends.  

Just the week before Hava and I were in England we had a team from Hull here in Ukraine, so we were happy to see them again and visit Hull Vineyard, their awesome church that supports Wide Awake.  It was a sweet time enjoying friends and making new friends.  We felt so loved and cared for.  My heart was encouraged and Hava got her love tank filled to overflowing.  Thank you Hull friends for loving us so well.  We love you!!! 

(boohoo I didn’t take nearly enough pics in Hull))

        

We’re back in Ukraine now and just waiting on our US immigration approval, and then all of our documents can be submitted to the adoption authorities here, and our in-country process can begin! 

Would you pray with us for speedy approval by immigration, and that the adoption authorities will have no issues with our paperwork?  Our situation is unique, so we aren’t sure if they will require extra documentation from us.  We pray not, because we are desperate to get our son home.  We are so close!  

I’m so thankful for the special England gift that God gave to Hava and me.  It seemed like an inconvenience at the time, but it was just pure blessing.  God knows just what we need, and He goes before us to prepare the way.  I mean, the week before I found out I would be going to England He brought us English friends who would bless our socks off and shower us with love.  This trip wasn’t just about fingerprints, it was about me learning to trust Him and His goodness, even more.  

One step closer to getting our baby home.  What a wild ride!  🙂

A Week in Photos: ‘Merica Edition

Last week Ezra and I were in the good old US of A! We had to go there for some document stuff and had a grand time!  It was the first time either of us had been back since we moved to Ukraine 17 months ago.  I was nervous to go, wondering if I would feel out of place, or too “changed”, but all my worries were for not.  It was a special time and our love tanks were absolutely filled to overflowing.  

*I was horrible about taking pictures.  My bad.*





I felt a lot of feelings throughout the trip.  Some were expected, others were not.  At church on the first Sunday I was so happy to be there I could have cried- and maybe did, just a little.  There were so many mixed emotions coming and going that my insides felt like a huge tangled up knot.  Then a wise and wonderful friend came to me and wisely advised me to stop telling myself what to feel and what not to feel.  

“If you keep telling yourself what you should and shouldn’t feel you’ll miss out on all that God has for you this trip.”  

Truth.  I decided in that moment to just let myself feel what I felt and to let go of the reigns just a bit.  I’m a control freak and I avoid vulnerability, but letting go of that control made for a much cooler trip.  





Curious things we noticed while in America:

-The streets are HUGE. Wowzers.  The lanes are so ginormously wide!!!  It felt like every street was a freeway.  

-Driving is amazing.  I forgot how freeing it is to get behind the wheel and go wherever you want to go. 

-The sidewalks are empty.  Ha!  On our first full day Ez and I walked to the DMV because I needed a replacement drivers license (my wallet was stolen last summer).  After I got my license we walked to my friend’s house who was generously loaning us a car.  As we walked along in the beautiful sunshine Ez said “Where are all the people?”  Haha.  Seriously though, walking along a sidewalk totally alone in Ukraine is a very rare thing.  

-The DMV is more efficient than I ever realized.  Don’t agree?  Just try to get a document replaced in Ukraine and you might change your tune.  🙂  

-Everyone is SO FRIENDLY and SO SMILEY!  Woah Nelly.  It felt like every barista and every gas attendant and every cashier was my new BFF!  Sooooooo not Ukrainian.  When we were going through customs in Portland, the lady who was taking the declaration sheets asked Ez “What grade are you in, buddy?  Hey, do good in school, okay bud?”  He barely nodded.  I reminded him not to be rude and he said “But, Mom, I don’t even know her!  Why was she smiling so much????”  Oy.  Ha.  Seeing all the smiles was AMAZING.  🙂 🙂 🙂 

-Everything is sparkling clean.  Serious.  You could eat off the floor of Target.  I didn’t, but, yeah the cleanliness, wow.

-People  popped out of the woodwork to tell us they pray for us every day.  I had no idea.  Blessed my socks off. 

-So many people love our Boys fiercely.  The Boys are like rockstars.  I pray God speaks to their spirits and gives them even a glimpse of how deeply they are loved by multitudes of people.  Thankful. 



I think the biggest thing I felt on the trip to America was a feeling like I was letting all my breath out.  It felt like I’d been holding my breath for the past year and a half- without even knowing it, and I finally just exhaled.  You see, in America I undestand EVERYTHING.  I understand every conversation, fully.  I understand every sign, completely.  I understand every bit of culture.  I understand the body language.  I understand cultural jokes.  I understand family norms and social norms.  I understand traffic laws.  I understand what is expected of me in just about every single situation.  In the whole two weeks I was there I never had one bit of tension  inside like “Uh oh, what am I supposed to do here….?”  

Not so in Ukraine.  I think when people think of living in a different country they mostly just think of the spoken language  issues- like vocabulary.  I know that’s all I thought of!  And yes, of course that is a HUGE HUGE HUGE learning curve and a HUGE HUGE HUGE obstacle.  But there is even so much more that has to be learned than just how to say words.  You have to learn the systems of how things work.  

How do you buy food at a store?  How do you buy food at a market?  How do you do banking?  How does the transportation work?  How do I behave when I enter this public building?  What do I do when I meet a new person?  What is expected of me?  How do I read that sign?  And if I can’t read it, who do I ask for help?  How do I send and receive mail?  How will this social gathering go, and what will be expected of me?  What if they ask me something and I don’t understand?

Sure, you can ask questions, but often you don’t even know what questions need to be asked.  There is so much that is unspoken in culture.  I can’t even tell you how much that affects daily life.  Culture is everything.  People don’t explain certain things to foreigners because it is such a cultural norm that everyone conforms without a second thought!  Everyone except us.  🙂  We don’t even know what we don’t know.  Sure we know more than we used to, but I’m still terrified of the post office.  So yeah, we’ve got a ways to go.



I realized that I have become so used to feeling unsure (about what to do, what to say, how to act), that the insecure-pit-in-the-stomach feeling I get when I go most places in Ukraine has become normal to me.  Oh guys, I feel dumb so often.  Hahaha.

BUT, in America I remembered that although I often feel dumb and unsure and not confident, that is not who I am.  I am bold.  I am strong.  Christ in me is bold.  Christ in me is strong.  He made me brave.  I’m actually a fairly smart person! 🙂  I can’t even tell you how that felt- to be able to turn off the insecurities and just BE ME.  I saw it changing Ezra too. 

We both came back to Ukraine reminded of who Christ is in us.  We came back braver and stronger.  We needed that.  

So yeah, it was awesome.  Part of me didn’t want to leave, but another part of me couldn’t wait to get back.  I have a feeling that is a tension we’ll live with as long as Ukraine is our home.

We have people who love us on both sides of the world.  We have home on both sides of the world.  I can love both places and long for both places.  I’ll just go ahead and stop telling myself what I should feel.  🙂







Wide Awake on Wheels

The day has finally come!

Today we bought a van!!!

Thanks to amazing friends and supporters in Lucerne, Switzerland and Talbot, Oregon we’ve had the money for months!  But, laws in Ukraine concerning vehicle purchasing kept changing after the first of the year and we were waiting for the final decision on how the laws would be interpreted before we forked out the cash.  The laws would determine if we drove in a car from another country or if we bought locally.  

Jed ended up finding a great van right in our very own town, and today he picked it up!

And there was much rejoicing.  🙂







There is space for 8 passengers and then the driver.  There is also space for at least two wheelchairs!  What a blessing.  This will also give our family much more freedom and that brings an extra dose of rejoicing! (think room for grocery bags, the ability to give friends a ride, and the possibility of drives out of town to nature…yay!)











To our friends who gave thousands and thousands of dollars, your gift will literally change lives.  We can’t even describe to you how much easier it will be to get to our Boys.  The Director has welcomed us there as often as we want to come, but lack of a vehicle has limited us many times.  No more!  Many of our youth that come to Youth NIght miss out on the events because of the difficulty of transporting people in wheelchairs.  No more!

Tomorrow the van will make it’s first trip to Romaniv.  Wide Awake is on the move!  Praise God!!!!



PS:  I just got confirmation that three more of our boys ARE OFFICIALLY AVAILABLE for adoption!  Expect an intro post soooooooon!!!  

A Week in Photos: March 8th

Oh my goooooodness! What an awesome week we had! It was go go go and packed with amazingness.

Jed was in America for 12 days and just got home last Thursday. He had an awesome time of connecting with supporters and churches. He went with the purpose of building a Wide Awake Medical Advisory Team and made lots of great contacts toward that end. It will be exciting to see what comes of it.  We realize that we are at the far limits of our own personal knowledge for how to best help the boys at Romaniv.  It’s time to pull in the big guns. The people Jed met with were so gracious and excited to help. Our Boys are loved by so many!

These past few days we had an extra special treat. You see Wide Awake gets to partner with some pretty special people, and two of them visited this past week. Suzy and Lois visited from Hands of Hope Adoption and Orphan Care and we had a super great time. We got to talk about how we can best work together and how we, along with Mission to Ukraine, can best join forces to care for our Boys. It was incredible!!! We didn’t want them to leave!  Talk about kindred spirits… I’ll share more about that later. Now for the pics!

On Tuesday we celebrated Valera’s 30th birthday! He was over the moon excited!

That pink box was his only birthday wish 🙂

Suzy, Lois, and Romaniv Directors. All four, so precious to us

Baking, baking, baking in preparation for a BIG party for Romaniv nannies!

Four handsome MEN- all ready for their special performances

Addy and Ez came along to help with the party. They were so happy to see their Romaniv buddies!!!

Sweet nannies. We love them.

Stasik welcoming everyone to the special party!

Hands of Hope gave each nanny their own multicooker! They are all the rage here and cost almost a full month’s salary! The nannies were just a tad bit excited.

Meanwhile, the boys were busy being adorable…

Maxim’s first selfie 🙂

Our Friday afternoon team is back in action!

All in all it was a fabulous week. Good things are happening left and right. We are so blessed to partner with MTU and Hands of Hope.

On another note, our fam is battling some sickness and just all around exhaustion, so we would appreciate your prayer. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉

Till next time! Say yes to Jesus this week, okay?

A Week in Photos: February 10th

Hi Friends!  Time to unload my phone again.  Every time I go to make a picture post I have to first delete like 50 or 60 pictures of Seth.  He’s a selfie-aholic.  Really.  We may have a problem. 🙂

Life here has been quite a ride lately.  Good times, hard times, happy times, scary times.  Mostly I just can’t believe this is my life.  I am the most blessed girl.  Not every day is easy- but sometimes it just hits me that the life I’m living is basically the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a tiny girl.  Wow.

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Our dear friends Andryi and Olya got married! Hava was the flower girl. It was such a fun party!!! We danced and ate and danced and ate. It was awesome. We are so happy for them!

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Addy and Nastya at the reception

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The bride and groom’s table.

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We had to take a jaunt to the Embassy. It felt really strange to be there. I realized it was the first time in 16 months that I didn’t feel guilty for speaking English in public. Wow.

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We need help. Professional help.

 

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My cousin Hannah is teaching English in western Ukraine this year. She came to Kyiv for a visit and then to our house! We ended up being in Kyiv on the same day. Super special!

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Last Tuesday our boy was doing really well. He definitely isn’t declining anymore. Now we just need to pray for more improvement in his health.

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Hannah and Addy. I love my family.

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Helping our boy keep his body safe.

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Seriozha and his accordion. I can’t even tell you what a blessing he is to the Boys- and to us! Ilya obviously likes it! 🙂

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Some friends from church came over to give us girls a “Beauty Night”. They did nails and cut hair and let my girls put makeup on them. It was so special.

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No boys allowed!