Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 13.3--Saying Goodbye

Though I am writing this on day 14, I thought I might as well fill you in on the happenings yesterday.  It was definitely notable.

Patty and Nastia cut fruit for breakfast
The morning began with breakfast, of course.  I was VERY happy to find out that the kids are just fine with scrambled eggs and toast because I'm counting my pennies and we've been living on bread, cheese, eggs, a little fruit and potatoes for the most part.  There aren't a lot of options for penny-pinchers (well, at least that I can read and recognize) and with the reality of having to walk and carry home everything you buy at the store, you choose and consume much more carefully.  We were also facing the reality of having to make sure everything was out of the apartment, including the fridge, and I didn't want food to go to waste.  For those of us who always make our own bread because the stuff at the store is so expensive, a loaf of plain bread here is about $.50 so it's worth it to just buy it.

Knife wielding teenagers are a lot of fun in the kitchen!
It's kind of a funny logistical situation to be moving from place to place but still having a lot of people to feed and take care of.  Clothes have to be washed, but it takes a day or more for them to dry.  Food has to be purchased, but you can only carry so much in your hands, bags and backpacks at one time.  Teenage boys eat a LOT and the rest eat like regular adults so it requires quite a bit of food.  Having to have bottled water means carrying that, too, on an almost daily basis because it's hot and walking everywhere requires you drink more water.  Carrying a bottle of water is an absolute necessity, but carrying one that will provide enough water for all day is almost impossible.  Public restrooms here are not what they are in The States, so sometimes you have to get back to the apartment to empty AND refuel.  Our apartment in the orphanage region was five flights up with no elevator so you can imagine the logistics of our daily life there.

So, back to the day...

Waiting to go back to the orphanage and "pack up".
Our facilitator picked up the children at 9:30am to take them back to the orphanage to "pack up".  It was left to us to make sure the apartment was completely packed up and we were ready to go about an hour and a half later.  We had bags and bags of donations to take to the orphanage, so it was decided that we would leave the luggage there and just take all the bags of donations and deal with the other logistical situation we had...I was running out of money thanks to old bills that couldn't be changed.


So, the money that was given to us for the air conditioner wasn't in a condition to be changed here, so I ended up using our own bills for that transaction.  This left me without enough funds to get through the process so Marsh had to wire money to me.

To make this part of the story short, let me just say that Western Union is NOT the way to go.  For the same price as it was taking Western Union to make me wait three days, sweat over it and end up cancelling it, MoneyGram had the money there instantly.

Still, we had the issue of driving to a bank on the other side of town, finding out that their "machine" that does this wasn't working and then driving back to a bank that was closer to our apartment to find that it was closed for lunch so we went to find a way for me to be able to call Marsh about another issue because my phone for this trip doesn't allow me to call out of the country.

We went to the post office to buy and use a calling card and, just as we walked in, my facilitator's phone rang.  Though we had 10 minutes before the scheduled party, they were saying all the children were ready and waiting.  We walked back out.

Guests of Honor

When we arrived at the orphanage, it was obvious why we received a call.  The kids were all sitting there, dressed up and ready for a performance.  Everyone else was in costume, hair done, ready to be the performers.  WE were to sit in the seats of honor...front and center.  Ruslan and Nastia were already there.

We joined them and watched a wonderful show.  One little girl sang and danced a little dance, dedicating it to Nastia.  Two teenage boys did an amazing hip-hop/break dance routine and dedicated it to Ruslan.  Two children we know, Yuri and Yulia, both performed in their own routines. 

Yuri dancing with two other boys to "Puttin' On The Ritz"
When the show was over, one of the staff members who has worked quite closely with us and obviously really loves Nastia got up and said a few words.  She called up both children and then me and talked about how we had loved and spent time with the children while we were there and said a lot more that never got translated.  After her words, she invited everyone to come give hugs to all of us.

We were swarmed, but the kids were all very careful.  I did almost lose my balance a few times!

A few special children, children I had come to really know and love, stayed and hugged me for a long time.  One little girl (actually, she's 10 so she's not so little) came right up to me, crying and hugging me so long.  I just love this sweet girl and I couldn't help but just weep right along with her as we held on for as long as we could.  Another little boy who is listed on the hosting program this year but will not have his paperwork ready for another year, stayed with me the rest of the time.  He and I had become very good friends, but Chris was his real buddy.

Another of Nastia's friends just ran out crying and every time she saw us, she ran away.  It was heartbreaking...literally heart breaking.  All of these children want families so badly.  My facilitator was very generous in saying that the children were crying because they are happy for Ruslan and Nastia, but let's be reasonable.  I wouldn't be crying for their joy if I were a kid.  Ruslan was crying a little, too, and I guarantee it wasn't because he was joyful. 

This is a huge page change for them.  One they have anticipated and hoped for, but let's face Chris said, these are the friends they have been family with for 2 1/2 years.  It's not an easy goodbye.

Saying goodbye to Jack (I don't think his name is Jack, but his Russian name sounds like it because of the way they drop their voice while they say it).
The last thing to happen was that the director took us into a room and gave us some contact information as well as directions to make donations to the orphanage.  She talked to the kids and told them she was very impressed when I wouldn't bring them back to the orphanage the night before, even if it meant I was going to sleep on the floor (which didn't happen because the boys did instead, giving me the couch).  K, like any mom is going to send her kids back to the orphanage when they were fully anticipating being at "home" for the first time...especially with all the ups and downs and waiting and disappointments this process has taken them through?  Yeah, right.  I'm not a saint, but I AM a mom!

She gave me an opportunity to say something, but told me I didn't have to.  I took the opportunity to thank her for the way this orphanage is being run.  I brought up the fact that I have seen the children hugged and kissed and spoken to in such loving ways and I thanked her for doing that for these children so we could come and bring them into our home as happy, caring, well-adjusted children.

On the Train

The kids were so excited for the train ride, I thought Nastia was going to burst.  It turns out the only tickets available were first class, which meant the girls and boys each had their own cabins with fewer bunks (only two instead of four) and fake flowers (wheee!).  Oh, and nicer curtains, too.  I do have to admit that the toilet situation is so much better in the first class car because sometimes there is soap and you're only sharing the bathroom with 18 people instead of 36.  It makes your chances better that you will actually get to use it during the 16 hour train ride...unless the train is stopping when you're in there...then they make you get out.

I got to room with a nice young woman and my facilitator graciously took the bed with the man in the cabin.  She said it was no big deal since she had roomed with three men on the train the night before.

Girls settling in.

Boys dealing with the 100 degree car prior to the start of the trip.  Notice the sweat on Chris and Ruslan's battery operated fan (a luxury we can thank my mom for!).

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