Moving Week!

It’s finally upon us!  MOVING WEEK! Be still my heart.

This week we move to the Wide Awake Homestead and my excitement can not be contained. IT’S REALLY HAPPENING. The “2-3 month renovation” that turned into a 9+ month massive overhaul (because, you know, asbestos and Ukraine complications) is finally coming to an end. I don’t think I can adequately convey to you the extent of my joy.

We moved out of our house in Oregon in October of 2012, in preparation for our move to Ukraine. Since then we’ve been a family on the move. From house to house, and from country to country. We’ve packed, unpacked, repacked, unpacked…and on and on, never truly settling. But now, our time has come! We’re moving into our home. Home.

The house isn’t totally finished yet, but we have the first of our summer mission team visitors arriving this Sunday and they need to stay in the apartment where we’re currently living…so yeah, we gotta get outta here! Yikes! Good thing the construction crew are our friends, because we’re all about to get real cozy. 🙂

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Our furniture at the moment includes a small kitchen table, two chair beds, one set of bunkbeds, and some patio furniture. But hey, we’ll happily sleep on the floor if it means we get to do it at the Homestead. Who cares!

Oh, and one other small detail…the sewer system isn’t all ready yet, so we’ll need to be super conservative with water for a bit…and…we’ll be using the outhouse. But hey, lots of people in our village live with outdoor toilets. That’s really no big deal in village life. Let’s just consider it another lesson in learning to relate to our new neighbors. Ha!

The house is beautiful. Jed gets all the credit when it comes to the design. He chose just about everything in the house and I think he has great taste! I super super love all the wood. Can you believe that going with wood was the cheaper option???  I know. I could be wrong, but I feel like lots of wood would be really expensive in the US. Here, it is much cheaper, and we like the look of it better anyway. Most of the more expensive, popular-in-Ukraine designs are really not our style at all. So, for the most part we ended up with good deals and a great final product. Score!

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Also, special shout-out to Jed for managing this enormous project. He had no idea when we moved to Ukraine that his job-title would include “General Contractor”! This house has been his full-time job since September, in addition to all his other responsibilities here. He has been working day in and day out to get this first home done as quickly as possible so we could start getting our boys out. This is only the beginning and we’ll be doing building projects for who knows how many years to come, but this first one just feels really significant. I’m so proud of Jed. He has done an amazing job.

Yes, I’m freaking out excited to move in because my heart is so eager for a home. But the main reason I’m freaking out excited to move in is because once the house is fully finished and furnished we can begin the process to start bringing our boys home! After all, that’s what we came here for. The big dream when we moved here 3 years ago was to build family style homes for the boys. The big dream was to get them out. Deinstitutionalization. That reality is so close. It makes my heart beat fast just thinking of it. Guys, this is really going to happen!

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We don’t know who will be first. We are praying about that right now. The Homestead will be a forever home for the boys, so we really need God’s wisdom on who we bring out- especially when it comes to the first few boys who will live in the house with our immediate family.  We have a few boys in mind that we are praying about and deciding between. How do you choose?  They all need out. They all deserve rescuing. God is going to have to choose for us and show us very definitely because we just love them all. Some of the boys are not possible options at this time, while we have small children at home, but many are possible and I can picture so many of them living with us. Please pray for us in this decision-making process.

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How can I thank our supporters enough for making this possible? Thank you to each of you who have given towards the homestead project. Thank you for believing in this vision. Thank you for loving our boys and seeing their immense value. Thank you for trusting us to carry this out. We are so humbled in all of this. Humbled and thankful and rejoicing in all that God is doing.

Once we’re in I’ll give you a video tour of what you helped build.

IT’S HAPPENING. Let’s all give a collective cheer/squeal/whoot/holler/happy dance!

 

Wide Awake Homestead Update

I haven’t written much about it lately, but work on the Wide Awake Homestead has continued strong and steady.  The process is slow going, and we are learning much patience, but someday soon it will be livable and all this impatience will be a distant memory. 🙂

To see pictures of what the house was like originally, check out this post.

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When we first purchased the property we thought we would only need to install indoor plumbing, update the electrical, and renovate the upstairs (it was just one room without insulation). But, that was before we realized the roof needed replacing. Once we knew that we decided it was better to replace the upstairs while the roof was off and the walls were open.

So, considering all that needed to be done, we’ve come quite far!

At this point the new roof is on along with an all new second floor.  The guys are laying the flooring in the upstairs and putting the tongue and groove wood on the walls upstairs as well.  The electrical is complete and heating is done except for the bathroom and kitchen floors which will be heated tile.  We’ve decided on the tile for the kitchen and bathrooms and are ready to place our order.  We have a work crew working full-time (doing great, high-quality work!) and Jed also basically works full-time purchasing items and keeping things moving.  Nothing happens quickly or easily in Ukraine, so his engagement in this building process is necessary.

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What’s left to do?  Walls and ceiling need to be finished upstairs and down, flooring needs to be completed upstairs, downstairs flooring needs to be laid, plumbing and septic system need to be completed, and then all the finishing things like kitchen cabinetry, bathroom fixtures like tub, showers, and sinks…

The outside insulation, stucco, and siding also needs to be completed, but we can work on that this summer after our family is already moved in.

We have big hopes of moving in this spring…maybe April???  Please, please, please let it be so! We are dying to move in and have a place of permanency so we can begin the work of bringing our boys home. Oh what a day that will be. 🙂

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Originally we had planned to build an addition onto the back of the house and use that as a home for the first boys.  Then we learned that in order to build an addition we would need city approval to begin ANY renovations at all. So we decided to make more bedrooms in the upstairs of the house for our family and use the downstairs bedrooms for the first of the boys.

The idea is that our family will sleep in 3 of the upstairs bedrooms, and we’ll use the fourth bedroom up there for an office/guest room.  There are 2 bedrooms downstairs and those will be bedrooms for the first of the boys we bring out.  So when we consider the first couple of boys we need to think of our kids and our nuclear family and who will fit best into our direct family life.  Make sense?  It’s different having boys in an addition or a cottage right across the sidewalk and having a few boys living right in the home with us and our little ones.  We will need plenty of wisdom when it comes time to pursue paperwork for guardianship of those first boys.

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We are super excited to have a couple of our precious ones living right in the home with us!  I think it will help their adjustment to be living with us and included directly in family life.  It is right and good and we are so lucky.  As our kiddos grow and move on we can use the bedrooms upstairs for more and more boys.

As we build we need to think of the boys and what changing needs they will have as they age.  They won’t stay young forever, and we want this homestead to be their home FOR LIFE.  This is not a temporary solution.  This is home.  Because of that we are working to make the homestead as accessible as possible, considering wheelchair accessibility and such.  The main floor of the house will be 100% accessible, as well as the other homes we will build on the property.

 The plan at this time is that our family will move into the house as soon as it is livable, hopefully this spring.  We will then move forward with applying for guardianship of the first boy or two.  It remains to be decided if we will bring out two boys at the same time, or one at a time. God will have to show us that and give us plenty of wisdom.

As soon as renovations on the house our fully complete we will begin work on the next family-style home and move on from there.  The current property can sustain 2-3 more family-style homes.


We have much to consider as far as who will live in the homes with the boys and what model of care we will adopt. There are different variations and we have not made any decision about what that will look like.  We only know that we want the boys to live in the context of family and we don’t have a desire to create a mini-institution.  Each house will be an independent home and family system.  We don’t need to know all of the answers right now.  Just as the journey has gone thus far, God only asks us to keep stepping forward.  He’ll give us the wisdom and answers we need when we need them.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!  Thank you for your support in prayer and finances.  We could never ever do this alone!

 

A Week in Photos: August 7th

I think I’ll try to get back into posting photos of our daily life here.  I know lots of people (besides just the grandmas) are interested in our daily life, and posting weekly pics forces me to get on here and share even if I don’t feel like I have a heckuvalot to say.  🙂 

The kids are adjusting pretty well to life back in Ukraine.  Seth acts as though we never left.  Ha!  He easily picked back up with little friends from church.  Ukrainian life with all the walking and more naturally active life suits him just fine.  Hava, Addy, and Ezra are all doing fine.  School hasn’t started yet, and we still haven’t nailed down exactly where they will go and which grade everyone will be in, so they’re still in our family/church bubble.  Things may get a bit more dicey once we get closer to beginning school…we’ll see.  I’m nervous about it, but what’s new?  Today all is well, so I’ll just be content with that. Vladik is doing great.  He was pretty emotional and regressed quite a bit in our first week here, but he seems to be coming back to his old self.  I could do a whole post on that…maybe I will!  

Bluebell is adjusting to Ukrainian life as well!  It’s killing her to not be able to just run and run and run.  But, we have LOADS of stray dogs in our neighborhood so she has to be on the leash at all times.  We take her for several walks a day, but I know she misses her freedom.  Soon!  Bluebell will LOVE village life!  We are so glad we brought her.  I see the kids going to her for comfort and joy often throughout the day.  What a blessing.  I could do a whole post on that as well!  Maybe I will! 😉 

On Sunday night a bunch of our church family came out to the new property to check it out and to pray.  It was awesome!  We felt so loved, and it was massively encouraging to see so many people from church interested and engaged in what God is doing.  It was a beautiful time. 


A friend from church, Andriy, brought his camera along and took some cool pics while we were all out at the property.  I love them!!!  There are SO MANY super old things left at the house.  Like serious antiques.  It will be so fun to use them in decorating.  EEK!  I’m horrible at that kind of thing.  I need Fixer-Uppers International!!! Seriously though, our house would be so super fun for someone who is good at that kind of thing.  It’s like a museum!  


We have a small team here this week from the UK Vineyard, and one friend from Ventura Vineyard. Oh man, we love those guys so much.  They’re mostly here to help the Ukrainian Vineyard pastors, but a couple of the team members are Speech and Language Pathologists and they came just to support our interns at Romaniv.  They have all been such an encouragement to us.  They also makes us laugh a ton, so that’s a big bonus.  We are so thankful for their love for Ukraine and her people, and their love for us.  We don’t want them to leeeeeeeeave!!!!  (I don’t have pics of them all, but you get the idea.  They rock.) Thank you Jim, Jeremy, Josh, Sophie, and Ali!  🙂

And, of course we have our boys.  Our sweeties.  Our urgency to get them out grows more every day.  It’s hard to trust God’s timing, but we really don’t want to push ahead on our own.  We are certain to fall flat on our faces if we get ahead of ourselves.  So, one foot in front of the other we say yes.  And in the meantime we try to give them all the love we can while they wait. 

Meanwhile, Back in Ukraine…

We made it!  We’ve been back in Ukraine for almost a week now, and all is well.  We hit the ground running.  I guess I’m learning that that’s kind of our style.  We don’t really know how to ease into anything.  🙂 The travel was great (minus a four hour stint in a Kyiv parking lot due to a busted belt on the van…but that’s another story).  Our puppy made it with us safe and sound too, for all the curious animal-lovers out there. No one left behind! 

It’s great to be back with our team, with our friends, with our church. It’s a relief to know that our family is all together and we’re going to stay that way indefinitely.  No more trying to live on both sides of the ocean at once.  It may take a while for my heart to settle into that fact.  Whew! 

The big, huge news is that on Monday we purchased the Wide Awake property!!!  It’s official! 


The property is in a nearby village called “Ivanivka”. We chose Ivanivka because it’s super close to Zhytomyr, but with plenty of awesome land for sale.  We will be within a community and close to the city, but with space to grow and garden, and space for our boys to enjoy nature and peace without being isolated.  Our team and friends can easily take the city bus to Ivanivka, and our property is not far off the main road, so it’s easily accessible, since most of our friends don’t have cars.
The property itself is a little under 2 acres.  There is an old house at the front of the property, and our family will live in that house after we do some renovating.  It’s not a house that would ever be ideal for our boys, but it will suit our family just fine.  There are established gardens behind the house, several mature fruit trees, and a big grassy field where we plan to build two more small houses that will be home to 4 boys each.  The back of the property is bordered by huge trees.  It’s just beautiful! There are several small outer buildings on the property that have had various uses over the years.  We’ll keep some of them and tear down others. 



The plan of attack, after deciding on a contractor and work crew, is to tackle plumbing, kitchen, and heating.  The floors have to be taken out to do the heating, and right now there is no indoor bathroom or kitchen, so those three things have to be done before our family can move in.  Once we are in we will begin work on an addition to the back of the house.  The addition will be home to the first four boys who come out of the institution! 

So, we’ve got our work cut out for us!  The house is old, but structurally sound.  The property has great potential, but a lot must be done before anyone lives there.  It can be a bit (or a lot) daunting when we think of how much needs to be done fairly quickly, so it’s imperative that we just put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Yikes.  In the meantime we’re renting an apartment that we lived in during our first year in Ukraine. 


We are so thankful to each one of you who gave to make this property a reality.  Thank you for your generosity.  Thank you for believing in the vision.  Thank you for loving our boys and for loving us.  Thank you for your YES!  


For more pics of the land check out this link: https://wideawakefamily.com/2016/05/17/wide-awake-property/

Wide Awake Property!

Jed came back to Oregon on Friday after spending the last month in Ukraine.  He had a great, full time working with our church community, interns, spending time with the boys, working on a special project, meeting with partners, and generally just gettin’ stuff done.  
One HUGE, major, important thing he has been working on during his last two trips has been scouting out land for us to purchase.  The dream of Wide Awake is deinstitutionalization.  We want our boys out. In order to get them out we have to have somewhere for them to live, right?  Right.  We don’t want them to live just anywhere.  We want them to live in nature, surrounded by beauty and land and gardens and fruit trees and people who love them.  We want them in a neighborhood, not in isolation. We want them to have occupation, purpose: working the land to help provide for themselves as they are able.  That dream requires a special piece of land, and Jed has been on the hunt for the perfect place.  

We think he’s found it! 


The land he found is approximately 1.3 acres and will be a great beginning spot for our first three Wide Awake homes.  It is in a village a couple kilometers from Zhytomyr, has an existing reeeeeeeally old home on it, and space to build 2 other cottages.  Thanks to our outrageously generous donors and outlandish end-of-the-year giving, we have the funds to purchase the land and renovate the house (it has no indoor plumbing…yikes!).  We plan to add an ADA standard addition to the house as soon as we have the money for it.  

Things are getting very, very exciting. 


The current plan is that Jed will return to Ukraine mid-June to purchase the land on behalf of Wide Awake.  We are also beginning the process, as a family, to obtain Ukrainian permanent residency.  Because we are the parents of a Ukrainian citizen, we have the possibility of permanent residency, and that will work in our favor on many levels.   

As a family, we are planning to return to Ukraine at the end of July or the first week of August.  The idea is that we will live in the old house and four boys will live in the addition with loving caretakers.  There are four boys, actually men, who turn 35 this year.  We need to be ready to intercept them before they are sent to an adult institution.  That means we need to move quickly and be ready for them come winter.  

It’s crazy.  It’s all becoming more real every day.  There are many, many logistics to work out as far as care of the boys goes.  Three of the boys we hope to bring home are non-interactive.  If you were to visit Romaniv you would not notice them.    We weren’t even confident of their names until they were confirmed on paper.  The nannies didn’t know their names. They are some of the ones who sit on benches all day every day, alone in their own minds.  They are not very receptive to human touch and do not respond much to interaction of any kind.  The fourth boy is social and interactive.  Everyone knows him and loves him.  They are all survivors.  Anyone who has lived that long in Romaniv is a survivor and we believe their potential is great.  You know, we are ready to love them just as they are.  We have hopes and dreams for them: hope for healing, dreams for full lives, but if all they ever know is that they are safe and loved and they never resp0nd to us as we dream- that’s okay.  They are our sweet boys and we love them.  They deserve the best. 


So, one step at a time we move forward.  There are many unknowns, so please pray for us that we are not fearful and that we will simply listen and obey.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we think of the big picture.  We really need to hear from God.  

We can not thank you enough for giving of your love, your finances, and your prayers.  This would be absolutely impossible without people praying and giving money.  There is no way we could do any of this on our own.  THANK YOU for journeying with us.  It’s about to get crazy up in here, so stick around and enjoy the ride!  

If you would like to give a donation specifically for the Wide Awake Building Fund you can do so here.