Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Halfway to Home

Half of us returned home late last night. My and Trev's plane arrived at DTW
1-1/2 hours late and by the time we got home and into bed it was 1am Detroit Time-8am the next morning Ukraine time. Our trip from the time we got on the train until we got home was 37 hours. It was exhausting. I spoke to D this morning to let him know we got home ok. Their trip won't be quite as exhausting since they will stay in Kiev at least 2 days to process the paperwork. They will have a break between the 13 hour train and 10 hour plane ride.
The train car we were in was nicer than the one on the way in. On the way in the car was old and dirty, the one on the way out was a little newer and definitely cleaner. As Trev would say...not as scary. Even the people riding in the other rooms seemed nicer. It was a very bumpy ride. We booked a room like we had on the way in...only it was only Trev and me. That way we did not have anyone else in the room with us and we could secure the door while we slept. We were playing card and had left the top bunks folded up...when we hit a big bump and the bunk above my head fell. Luckily they also are secured by a chain on one end or it would have landed on my head. Trev went to get the attendant...He told her "Nyet Ruski..come" and motioned with his hand. She totally understood him and came to look. It was too heavy for her and I to fix, and a few minutes later a man came and took care of it.
Trev was happy when our airport transfer car was a BMW sedan. It was by far the nicest car we rode in while we were there. The driver was in a hurry so it was also the fastest we had rode while we were there...160 do the math. But it was a smooth ride...none of the standard potholes.
The Kiev airport was small by our standards. I didn't remember much about coming in there because we were in such a hurry to get to our rescheduled appointment. They started boarding until 1/2 hour before the flight was scheduled to leave. It was interesting people watching though. They had flights leaving for Milan, Banai, Sweden, and flights in from Tel-Aviv, and China.
Well, I will write more later...although I will be talking to most of you soon.
Love Sue

Friday, March 28, 2008

Introducing The Pode Brothers

Today was court and the judge approved the adoption. K will now be known as Konstantin Pode or as we call him, Kostya Pode. Unfortunately, while the children's house representative and the social worker endorsed our request for immediate execution, and while the judge and the prosecutor agreed that we had good reason...due to the current auditing situation, they were unable to grant the immediate execution and unable to waive the 10 day waiting period. Bummer. It was definitely a bittersweet afternoon. We have been waiting 1-1/2 years, so the extra 10 days shouldn't be a big deal...just a disappointment. We were hoping to leave court today and be heading home with both of our boys. sigh!!!!
By the time we were done with court, it was already 4pm. Then it was off to find a photographer to take kostya's new passport photo. The photo shop had a candy jar on the counter and between Trevor, Little Kostya, Big K, and Dad, I think it was emptied by the time we left. Since we had Kostya, we went out to dinner before we had to take him back to the orphanage. (He will not be able to leave the orphanage until the final decree is signed at the end of the 10 days, which is April 8.) The choice for dinner was the pizzeria that has the playscape. Since it was Friday night, it was very crowded and must have been "the place" to be. We took Kostya back to the orphanage about 7pm.
While we were hoping the 10 days would be waived, we also talked about what we would do if they weren't waived. Trevor and I will be returning home and Dad will be staying here until he can take possession of Kostya and come home. It was a hard decision to make, but Trevor needs to get back to school and I have paperwork and things that need to be done both at home and work. Trevor was becoming bored and a little frustrated at only being able to see Kostya at certain times each day. He doesn't understand why he has to stay at the orphanage when we have been made his family. I understand the legal reasonings, but it really doesn't make sense to me either. So we wait...and hope the next 10 days fly by.
I have been online checking out available flights for Trevor and me. We originally were scheduled to fly out Sunday night, but since court was on Friday and I have things to sign at the US Embassy in Kiev before I leave, we are trying to fly out on Tuesday. If things work as planned...we should be home late Tuesday night. I told Trevor I will not make him go to school on Weds, especially since we will not get home until after midnight. Tomorrow I will sign the orphanage release papers. Big k has said he will play soccer with the boys again before we have to leave, so maybe we will do that tomorrow. I have forms to download from the Embassy so I can get them ready for D, so we will be off to the internet cafe tomorrow. That is the only place with a printer.
Trevor is a little worried about D so I will be leaving a lot of detailed lists for D to follow. Anyone who know us knows that I am the details person and D is the go-along one. He hasn't even learned how to use the cell phone we were provided. He will need to know how to get online so he can email us. He will need to cook if he is going to eat...there are no McD's or Arby's on the corner. I am certain he is capable, but we have not been apart this long since we were married almost 13 years ago. He will need to know how to use the washing machine(lol). There are lots of lists to be made before Trev and I leave.
I am posting a picture of Trevor and that the court had made its decision, I am able to post a picture of his face.
I will write more soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's Spring Here

Well we went from snow in syracuse to 70 degrees in Ukraine. The weather is wonderful. It was a little windy today, but we really didn't even need jackets today.
Our water was shut off early this am and it just went back on about 8:30pm. I thought since it was not on by 7pm, that we would not have water until tomorrow.
Our court date is in a few days, and we are asking everyone to be in agreement in prayer with us for 'immediate execution' of the adoption order. It seems weird the 'immediate execution' thing being that we are in a former soviet region....I'm sure those words meant other things in times past.
Our facilitator has spoken a little about growing up in the Soviet Union. He was in college by the time the red curtain fell, so I'm sure he has a lot of memories of what it was like. I hope to be able to get some insight before we leave. I do know that until 1989 or 1990, Sunday worship services were non existent. I think all christian worship services under the Soviet Union had to be underground...they were simply not allowed to be practicing christians. Even now, I think the majority of christians are strict orthodox. I think being a born-again christian is still a very radical thing to be. O has been ill as of late, but she also has been reading The Authority of the Believer. I hope she applies what she is reading. I will be seeing her tomorrow. She has expressed an interest in the teaching CD's I brought with me. I will leave them with her. There is a lot for their church to do here. (the harvest here truly is ripe)so they need to understand and learn to exercise their authority.
With all the poverty around, we are noticing progress. There are some buildings being renovated, and some storefronts being remodeled. The infastructure is going to be a huge problem, but we do see some signs of improvement and can only hope, for those people living her, that the future is brighter, and improvements continue. Now that it is spring, it is easy to see that while they do not have much, they do try to take care of what they have. there are flowers coming up everywhere, and spring clean up is taking place everywhere we look. they even have crews that shovel the mud that accumulates along the curbs, and clean the streets by hand. Big piles of raked leaves are everywhere...i wonder if a big truck will come by and pick them up.
Big K had an adoption for another couple not go through. They had traveled "blind" for a young child, and received a referral for a 2-1/2 year old girl. they went to see her, but did not pursue adopting her due to the girl's medical needs. Seems she was born with club feet, and the couple did not believe they could handle her needs. K seemed very disappointed, because she needs surgery on her feet within the next 6 months, or she will be like that for the rest of her life and not be able to walk. Because she is in a orphanage, they will not spend the money needed to give her the surgery here. They will wait for a family to adopt her and assume the responsibility, or allow her to remain like that. Please pray for her...P.
Well, thats all for now. I will try to add more pictures soon.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Little K's Day Out

Well we got to spring Little K from the orphanage for the day on Sunday. Our facilitator made arrangements for us to take him to church with us, out for lunch and he didn't have to be back until dinner time. After the day we had, he was probably tired enough to go back and go to sleep.

He didn't know we were taking him until we showed up to get him, what a surprise. When we got to church, he realized he knew the youth director, she had taught english at the orphanage for awhile. He felt very comfortable, and T was very happy to have him out.

After church, it was a nice day, so the boys played on the little playground behind the building that houses the church. It was built by the Pastor from the states who started the church. They are also(with the help of a sponser) refurbishing another building to be a private baby orphanage. They plan on having it ready for occupancy in about June. We have not seen the project yet, but we did meet the superintendant of the project. He is from the states. D and him got to talk business for a while.

Then we walked to the pizza parlor. O and N could not join us, her parents were in town for the weekend, and they wanted to spend some time with them. They have a play area much like chuck e cheese's, only this one you have to pay by the half hour. It is not included in the price of the pizza. They also do birthday parties. It was fun watching the games they were playing. They also have an air hockey table. They boys had a lot of fun...just the beginning.

We needed to pick up the soccer ball to play when we dropped Little K off, and I didn't carry it to church with us, so we had to walk to the apt to get it. We ended up watching professional soccer..Manchester United vs. Arsensal FC. Soccer is huge over here. Our facilitator used to play alot, in fact he played until his first year of college.

When we dropped Little K off, we played some football---soccer. T keeps asking Big K to come ready and wear his sneakers. T thinks Big K is all talk.

Today...Monday, we went to the market to stock up. It was about 70 today and sunny. We were running out of Gryvnas(ukraine $$) so Big K was going to meet us at the square so we could go the the bank and exchange some US currency. Problem was, the US dollar has dropped rapidly in the last 5 days, as the Euro has gone not only is the exchange rate lower...we went to 4 or 5 banks that were not even exchanging US. Big K found one that would, but they rejected 2 bills because they had writing on them and looked too old. We had to pull on some that looked newer and they changed them. Big K wore his sneakers...T was thrilled. So we played soccer all afternoon. Big K is very good...he showed T & K some moves they probably had never seen, and he had some hard shots. I think Big K had as much fun as the boys did. His son does not like soccer so he will not play it with dad...but our boys certainly wore him out today. I'm sure he is going to sleep well tonight.

We received notice that the water to our apt building will be turned off for the day tomorrow. Probably construction related, I don't think each unit had its own shut off, I think it is all one. Anyhow we had to fill up these big bottles so we would have water for the day.

See ya later!!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!!!!

Happy Easter to all our friends and family in the US. It is weird, since it is not Easter here. They follow the orthodox calander so Easter is on 4/27. We will be long since gone, so technically we are missing Easter this year. T is imagining all his friends getting candy in the am, and to him it is just another day. We will celebrate when we get home. We will do the egg hunt and everything..just late. We celebrated Good Friday by watching the Passion of the Christ, so we will, by ourselves, celebrate His rising at breakfast.

The climate here is alot like home in the spring. It is about 40-45 everyday, and today it was sunny. The flowers are beginning to come up. The landscape, trees, etc. are alot like Michigan. They have white birch trees, poplars, and evergreens. But even thought it is spring, it is a very dismal town...gray and mud everywhere. I am trying to take a variety of pictures, but everything looks the same. Every once in awhile, a business owner will paint the front of their building a wild color...bright yellow, neon green, etc. At first it seems a little gaudy, but after looking at all the gray, it isn't so bad.

Everyone in the city lives in apartment buildings very similar to the one we are in. Big metal entrance doors, narrow cement dark stairwells, but once you get through the doors to the actual apartment, they aren't that bad. They have done the best they can. They are very small...most are probably smaller than our garage. But this is what they have, so they make the best of it. We visited the town's version of HD or Lowe's. It is about 1000 sq ft. I will try to post pictures.

They have about 30 different types of ketchup. Ketchup w/garlic, w/onions, w/peppers, w/tobasco, with pretty much any combo you can imagine. They use it for pasta sauce as well, and most of their grocery packaging is much different than ours.

Today we went to visit LK, by ourselves, K called us a cab to and from the orphanage. Lk is getting a little bored of the visits and then us leaving, I know he is wondering how long before we get to just take him home. To be honest, I am ready to be home, but we are managing. I know we will have a new appreciation for all the little things in life.

Love you all

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pictures took about 15-20 minutes to load each of these pictures, and I kept getting error messages on the next one. I guess I will try one picture a day.

Things that are different here:

1. Almost Everybody Smokes...Everywhere...There are no areas that are non-smoking.
2. There are no lane markers and no turn lanes. Everyone from taxi's to buses to trucks drive in whatever lane happens to be open at the time or drive to avoid the potholes.(You think Michigan is bad....these roads make Michigan roads a dream) Today we were at an intersection where 4 cars were lined up one next to another to all make the same left turn. They pass on the wrong side of the road all the fact since there are no center lines, I guess it's not the wrong side of the road.
3. You can buy beer anywhere. There are little kiosks on every street corner and right next to the coke cooler is a beer cooler....and there is no drinking age. In fact on the airline here(we flew on Aerosvit, the Ukrainan airline) when they served breakfast they also served beer, wine, vodka and brandy drinks along with the coffee, tea, soda, and juice. And it was no additional charge...and they weren't the little bottles, they had whole bottles and fifths and had to get more bottles from the back.


We Have a Court Date!!!!!

We have a court date and it is within the next week. At the court date, K will officially be our adopted son, pending the 10 day wait. The 10 day is considered and appeal time, in case some family member whiches to protest. Some have received immediate execution of the court mandate which waives the 10 day wait. Since noone has ever visited K in the five years he has been in the orphanage(except us), please pray we have favor; the judge's heart is softened; and we are granted immediate execution in Jesus' name. I will try to post some pictures.