Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 11.3--Last Day at the Orphanage!

Its' over!  The ten day waiting period officially ended today.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will bring clothes to the orphanage for Ruslan and Nastia to change into and they will come with us to get their new birth certificates and start the process for the passports.  They will be all ours from now on! 

Tuesday night, they will spend the night with us in our apartment here and we will return to the orphanage Wednesday at noon for their goodbye party and to deliver the donations we brought over, as per the suggestion of our facilitator who said the donations make the party that much better. 

Wednesday, we will take an overnight train to Kiev to wait for the passports so we can finish the necessary processes and head home.

Here is a glimpse into our last day:

Nastia finished the bags for her friends.  They all now have a little bag with a hand-made fabric flower and their name in glitter decorating the front.  Inside is a photo album of Nastia, Ruslan and of the two of them with us, as well as a little bottle of bubbles.

Silly kids!  Ruslan and Chris have this "brother thing" going on quite well.  They remind me of my dad and his brother, my uncle Bud with all their shenanigans!  Nastia likes to watch them and got in on their "freeze pose" when I asked them to stop goofing around so I could take a picture!

I told Chris today that because she has only had such positive experiences with Ruslan as her older brother, she is expecting (and receiving) the same relationship with Chris.  She feels very safe around him and enjoys getting in on the banter.

This is the Kodak Moment that didn't happen!  Just moments before I snapped this picture, we said and videoed our final goodbyes at the gate.  It was the last time we would have to leave them there so we documented it.  Both kids are so excited for tomorrow! 

They turned around and walked back toward the orphanage, Ruslan doing a silly wave goodbye and then they were both facing away, walking together.  I whipped out the camera, because the two of them with their backs to us in the clothes they have worn every single day we've been here for eleven days was a true Kodak Moment.  Instead, we this. 

I'm posting it anyway because it reminds me of what it did look like to watch them walk away for the last time.  If you look closely, you can see Ruslan between the trees.  Your imagination will have to fill in the blanks.

Because it was Monday, it was p-day for the missionaries again.  They invited us to go back down to the beach with them between orphanage visits, but Patty and I stayed to gather food for the extra tummies that will be added tomorrow while Chris went and had a ball!  He met us at the orphanage later.

After our afternoon visit and our "last goodbye", we hurried back to the apartment to drop things off and pick up our dessert to share for Family Home Evening, and hurry back up the hill to meet the elders at the bus stop.  Now, an important thing to note was that today was THE HOTTEST DAY since we arrived here.  I looked it up on just was 99 degrees today!  Now, imagine that with the humidity AND the fact that we walked more today than we have on any other day we have been here...I did think about the pioneers, the missionaries and the labor of love that this whole process is while we walked and walked and walked and walked and waaaaaaaalked!

We actually made it up to the bus stop on time and sat down to wait for the elders to join us on foot, I assumed because I didn't know where they were coming from.  About five busses had come and gone and we were just sitting there chatting about how excited Ruslan and Nastia seemed to be about tomorrow when all of a sudden, I felt impressed to look ON the bus that had pulled up and was about it leave.  There, from a PACKED vehicle, I saw a Book of Mormon waiving just outside the door.  It was Elder Carley, trying to get our attention (our backs were to him) because his companion was sitting and was completely blocked by people crowded onto the bus.  Since the missionaries must always stay with their companions, Elder Carley wisely didn't get off the bus to get us because it might pull away with his companion inside!

As soon as I realized what was happening, I jumped up and ran to the bus telling the kids to follow me.  They couldn't figure out what I was doing because we were supposed to be waiting for the elders!  Thankfully, they followed and we all CRAMMED up into the bus, having to carefully tuck our arms in to avoid having them taken off by the door opening and closing.  I whispered to Elder Carley, "This would be illegal in the US" to which he answered, "No kidding!"  He proceeded to describe buses that are so packed, you can let your weight off your feet and still be standing.  I suddenly remembered Marsh describing sleeping on the bus standing up because it was so packed with people.

QUITE the cultural experience...which we have had a few times now but I had to record the details at some point!  :)

So, Heavenly Father was obviously interested in getting us to Family Home Evening tonight because we would have missed that bus if it wasn't for the impression to look up.  Here, Elder Carley and Elder Hardy are walking with Chris up the road to the home we would visit once again for a group FHE.

This gathering was our last opportunity to be with the missionaries until they visit us at our home when they are released (which they all faithfully promised to do).  I realized through conversations with them that they didn't have any American medicines (for colds, diarrhea, upset stomachs, headaches, etc.) OR Ziploc bags (which are non-existent here...and I think Ziploc is making a biiiig mistake not cashing in on a country that hasn't had the joy of zippered bags, yet!) so I went through everything we had and gave them what I knew we wouldn't need.  Not much of a goodbye present for people who have done SO much for us, but I couldn't think of anything else!

Here, Elder Hardy poses with Chris and our nifty goodbye gift.

The Family Home Evening lesson was a great lesson the gifts of the Spirit, given by Elder Fish.  Afterward, our wonderful hostess served homemade borsch!  We loooove borsch at home and were really excited to try some made by a real Ukrainian.  It was WONDERFUL.

After borsch, dessert and games, we were all asked to be put on the Walls of Fame where missionaries and other special guests have been honored.  :)  The tradition is to be measured and a line made on the wall...

...and then you sign your name next to it.  The elders were teasing Chris that when he comes back here on his mission, he can compare his height from when he was 15.
Here, Patty signs her English and Russian.  :)

It was really hard for us to say goodbye to the missionaries we have come to love so much during our time here.  We said goodbye to one companionship at a time...the sisters at the bus stop, one set of elders on the bus and the other set at our door after they walked us safely home. 

We came in so grateful for air conditioning and cold water to drink, but the kids went straight to the ipod and camera, watching the videos and looking at the pictures I'd taken.  None of us wanted to have that time with our new friends end and it hurt our hearts to have it over.

Several weeks ago when it looked like I would be the one staying for this waiting period instead of Marsh, I could come up with lots of good reasons why that wasn't a good idea...I don't know the language, I didn't want to be away from my little ones, I couldn't communicate with the kids on the planes and trains and well, it just wasn't a good idea.

I thought it might be good to ask Heavenly Father to waive the waiting period and get us home faster, so I prayed for that.  The impression came to me, "If being there for the waiting period would positively impact the lives of your children forever, you'd want to stay for the waiting period, wouldn't you?"  I was hesitant to answer that question, but the reality was YES, I would make (what I considered) that sacrifice to have an outcome like that.  In the eternal scheme of things, being absent for a few more days will mean nothing compared to more of our childrens' hearts turned to God and tuned to His ways.

I had no idea that those experiences the Lord already had in mind would come in the form of not just visiting at the orphanage, living in a new culture, living without conveniences we are used to, instantly loving little children we have never known before, building relationships with Ruslan and Nastia, making personal sacrifices of comfort and comfort zone, but through these faithful elders and sisters that taught us so many things and let us love them and get to know them.

I have a much more firm testimony that the Lord knows the best path than I ever have before.  Sure, it's always "made sense" that we should leave things in His hands, but I am now seeing over and over and over that His grace IS sufficient, that His plan IS the plan of happiness and that His ways are not our ways, but are the best ways.

'Worry' is the temptation of the devil to try to have control over something...when God's way is to let Him have control over everything.


  1. This is definately the frosting on the many-layered cake! But do not stop blogging the experiences. We all want to occasionally know what is happening in Utah with your huge family! How the kids are learning English, how home schooling is going, how the kids all fit into their rooms, how they are doing at church with English as the language, etc.
    Welcoe to the family, tell them from, Grandma Jane.

  2. I am so excited for you all! Can't wait to see their first pictures as free birds!