Wednesday, March 19, 2008

3-19-08 Recent pics

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Home!

Good morning!
Just a quick note to let you know we did make it HOME! Ahhhhhhhhhh what a great feeling! So much to say and upload some pics later. So check back as we update on how things are going.

Thanks for your prayers!

John and Lucia and girls

Friday, March 7, 2008

On the plane!

Hey all
Its 9pm and we are almost loaded. Has to be the quickiest load I have ever seen. So those of you are coming to airport should be there around 10:30pm

ALMOST HOME! Yeah god!

John and Lucia and girls

Sitting in New York

Its 7:45pm and we just got notified that our plane should be 8:02pm. So I am guessing we will be heading home before 9pm and into CAK yet tonight. We know the roads are bad so please don't put yourself at risk to see us at airport! But at least we should be home tonight!

Love you all,
John n Lucia and the girls

Flight info

Hello all,

If you are meeting us at airport here are ways to check flight status. Thanks to Bob Ray.
Those who will be meeting you at the airport can check your flight
status at either
http://www.airtran.com/flight-schedules/flight-info.aspx or at
http://flightaware.com. They would need to enter your flight info,
Airtran Flight 213 in order to check status. The flight aware website
won't list anything until the aircraft actually takes off. The airtran
website will list flight delay info once the time gets closer.

So we plan on going to airport in case it takes off on time. So hopefully we'll be sleeping in our own beds tonight.

Love you all,

John and Lucia and the girls

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Back in the Good Ol' USA!

We made it! We arrived in NY at 6:45 this evening. It was wonderful to be able to read signs and hear "Next!" at the US Citizen line! :o) We went through immigration with no hassles and are now in our hotel room for the night. We have been told of the storm expected at home tomorrow and have opted to still take the evening flight. We are absolutely whipped and grumpy and there is no way we will be able to get the girls up and moving to be on the road to the airport by 8:30 am.
There is more to post -- just not tonight.
Good night from New York!
Lucia

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Homeward bound!

Greetings all,

Today was just a wind down day in our final whole day in Ukraine. The girls just stayed in pj's and we watched dvd's together and they listened to cd's on my laptop.

Girls had time to talk to friends one last time and was just all in all a very relaxing day. Once Lyuda go home from work she and I went to local store and got chicken, crab salad and such for our farewell dinner. Lyuda brought home a kiev cale and we sang our first happy birthday to Rymma tonight here since tomorrow will be spent flying.

The really cool thing is Rymma will become a US citizen (julia too!) On her 14th birthday the moment she touches USA soil. So it will certainly be a birthday for Rymma never to forget.

So here's the deal...
Tomorrow March 6th we fly 1pm ukraine time and arrive in JFK at 4:35pm est. We will stay in hotel there and take Friday afternoon Airtran Flight 213 LGA to CAK departing at 4:50 pm arriving at 6:28 pm at Akron Canton airport Friday evening. We wanted to fly straight through but getting that late tomorrow would be around midnight and hard on kids with school and such. So we picked Friday afternoon and hopefully late enough that people can meet us there. I'm counting on 400-500 people being there- ok? Hahahahaha I hope you can come see the girls and celebrate with us on this great day!

So some last minute thoughts and reflections.
1- I will be posting TONS more pics when I get home and settled in.
2- been here 5 weeks and NEVER seen a single cow or a active farm with animals. (Really)
3- that the last 5 weeks has humbled me that God is in control and not me. 4- that when you are following God's will you just know your doing the right thing when the rest of the world tells you are wrong or crazy to do this.
5- I have not regretted one millisecond of the past 5 weeks here. I am certain it was God's will and his purpose for us to be here this long. I surrender all.
6- that because of our posting and photographs there are other children at detsky dom that people have contacted us about getting more information about. THAT'S A HUGE YEAH GOD!
7- Rymma only has the photo's we gave her and a handful of friend's photos. We got 3 school pics from her school file. Other than that she has no pics. :-( So if you are reading this take pics of kids there and not just yours. Take memory stick to local photo shop and run off some pics for the kids there. One of the neatest and humbling sights of being here 5 weeks and seeing hardly no photos in any other room expect Rymma's was looking around our final day. I saw snapshots we had given out in several of the rooms and it really made me happy that these kids who have nothing so have something to hold onto.
8- that being here 5 weeks I never ONCE saw the kids not share every drink, chocolate, crab and when we went to local store the kids only bought things they knew everyone liked.
9- that a simple thing like a hug or a kiss on the cheek makes a difference in a young ladies life here. Its the simple things that mean the most here. That escorting our girls or one of their friends to the cafe or corner store was a big deal to them ( and me too!)
10- that Krystina, Marina, Nastya, Alena, Vika so many more here have touched my heart and changed me in so many ways. That for most of them I have been a dad to them this past 5 weeks and that's most contact they have had with a father figure, period. This simple truth is heart breaking to me.
11- that I can see already before I leave of the need here and that I expect to be back here again.
12- surprisingly even before we have left the girls are asking me to be able to return to see there friends. My first thought would be to leave and never come back but it makes me realize how much these kids are family to each other and they want to stay in contact.
13- taxi's in Kiev are double to triple to what we paid in Gorlovka.
14- that Lucia and I have been humble to follow God's will and complete the adoption of Rymma and Julia.

So please check back for photo's and updates as we now focus on getting home and being all together as a forever family.

Thanks for your support and your prayers. We could not have done this by ourselves. And last is first, first is last may GOD be glorified in this and that he is magnified! Glory to God to use us in this.

Agape,

John and Lucia

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cleared to go! No plane ... :-(

Privet from Ukraine!

Girls are cleared! Yeah God!
We got their visa's today and went shopping for a bit. While at embassy another couple there from VA said they had to fly out Thursday because tomorrow's flight was full. They weren't joking. :-( So as soon as we got back to flat I tried to book flights on my laptop but connection wouldn't hold up so I winded up at internet cafe for the evening trying to get flight. I found one combination through a web site a friend gave me here. But it was through singapore and once I completed all the stuff I found out it mailed paper tickets. So when I tried going to the 3 airlines direct a simple fare turned into a nightmare and costly. So I had to stick with aerosvit on thursdays flight. So as of this post we arrive the 6th in Jfk at 4:35pm. I have to staighten out issue of entering the passport info in morning and then see what flight I can get into CAK. Right now its like 11pm to 12 midnight arrival at CAK. So we might stay at New york and head home Friday. Will let all you know tomorrow. Its almost 1am here now and I am whipped!

Also before I forget we got quite a surprise at breakfast this morning.
Rymma told us about her sister! Yes, you heard me right. She has a 10 year old sister. She was abandoned by her mother at the hospital because she had heart problems and other medical issues. Her mother just left her and never came back for her. So a nurse there adopted her and Rymma knew nothing about her sister till 1996 when she was told about her and met her shortly after that for the first time. We also found out that the family asked to adopt Rymma AFTER they heard we had hosted her and she told them no. So we are grateful that she picked us to be her parents. So its been a another long day here. Finding this out, waiting at embassy and then some shopping.
So will post tomorrow about when we get in so everyone can sing happy birthday to Rymma at airport ;-)

We are so eager to get home!!!

Agape,
John

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Painful Goodbyes...

Greetings everyone,

As I punch this in my blackberry it is 05:30 and we are sitting in main train station in Keep waiting to go to Lyuda's flat at 7am. Julia is sleeping against my shoulder and Rymma is laying on her lap sleeping. It is comforting that papa is a nice pillow :-)

I don't think any of us slept well on the train. Julia told me her mattress fell off the top bunk at some point in the night. The bad thing she was laying on it at the time! Ok I am backing up to Sunday's events now.

We got up early Sunday and finished packing up our stuff. Julia stayed with us again and Rymma spent last night with her friends. Olga picked us up at 11am and we planned 2 hours at orphanage but ended up with only an hour :-( so our final goodbyes were rushed to say the least. We let Rymma take the camera so she got lots of pics.

2 years ago when I came to Ukraine on missions trip in 2006 when I left I did not shed any tears unlike when I left Ecuador or Peru. I was ready to go then, mission accomplished. God has a reason for everything and I know why I didn't cry then because I was saving it for this time.
I do not think words can accurately describe what took place but I will try.

When we arrived we found all the girls gathered in Rymma's room. Tears were already flowing then and it just continued the entire time. We just spent the entire time going from girl to girl hugging and kissing them. The girls just kept constantly rotating between Rymma, Julia, Lucia and myself. I would hug and kiss Krystina, Lucia had Marina, Rymma had vika and Julia had Nastya. Then we would switch and the process repeated over and over.

I saw Jesus everywhere in that room and I truly feel I felt a glimpse of what heaven is going to be like. Everyone loving each other and praising our savior all day. One of the things that truly broke me was that these beautiful daughters of ours were leaving the only family that they had for the past 7 years together and that they willingly chose to be with Lucia and I. Wow! How brave these girls are. I can't honestly say I could make the same choice of leaving my family for another. You can pick you friends but you normally can't pick your family. So I was just broken watching these girls cry.

it is hard to imagine the bonds that were created in a month here. Lucia and I both have marks on our hearts from these girls and we know that we have touched Krystina, Marina, Nastya, Vika, Alena hearts very much.
I can honestly say I would lay down my life to protect these girls just as I would my own daughters Shauna, Sammy, Julia, Rymma and Sabrina. Oh how we miss these girls so much! The other stark fact is that Lucia and I would not hesitate to add any of these girls to our family. However, the painful truth is that we cannot save them all. :-( and this simple fact just breaks my heart. :-( Nastya is already 17 and through odd circumstances is one of the few that stays beyond 16 here. Her birth date is Dec 25th and will turn 18.
So once we said our goodbyes upstairs we all headed downstairs and out to front gate in a huge group hug walking together. Lucia and I were with Krystina. This beautiful young lady has really touched us both.
So we got to the taxi and it was honestly just a mess. Was very painful and I just saw broken young ladies on both sides. Going and staying. As we pulled away I watched julia console her sister and hug and love on Rymma. I am so glad we decided to go with two girls! Time has flown from that point. Took taxi to our flat and loaded bags and met up with Angelina and her husband. Drove to Donetsk to get our train.

Our train ride was quiet and peaceful for the most part. Spent time talking to girls and different things and just being silly. Girls both love being massaged and I relaxed them both to fall asleep so that was nice to watch.

So here we are in train station. If we were playing survivor I would be the winner. All three of the girls are crashed and I playing security guard watching all our stuff. So later this morning we meet up with Angelina and start processing out. Medical exams and visa's today.

So until I have tickets in my hands I am not sure if we will make flight Tuesday or Wednesday. Once we have our tickets will post so everyone knows when we return to usa.

Thanks!

Agape,

John and Lucia

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Greetings all,

First off, I want to apologize to my still-youngest daughter for not making it back today to see her show. Knock 'em dead Sabrina! And secondly to my oldest for not making it home so Shauna could meet her new sisters.

Ok-with that off my chest, I need to clarify something. No, we did not adopt Julia's younger brother! Sorry for the confusion. He was adopted 7 years ago when he was a baby to a family in Italy or Spain. It caused an issue because our judge was concerned about something coming back on her decision so an investigation was summoned into why the earlier court allowed Julia and her brother to be separated.

So that's all behind us. We have our decree and passports. Rymma and Julia are OFFICIALLY ours! So tomorrow we leave Gorlovka at 2pm and head to Kiev and arrive at 5am! Fun-fun, does the fun ever end here???

We apologize for falling off updating the blog. We have spent every minute we possibly can with the girls and their friends. Rymma spent last night and her last night tonight with her friends.

Julia, on the other hand, spent last night with us for the first time in our flat. Was soooooo nice having her with us. She helped Lucia in the kitchen cleaning and cooking dinner. Julia and Lucia had a little slumber party out in living room and Papa had the bedroom to himself. I have been lucky to get 4-5 hours and then its hard for me to go back to sleep.

Today was our last full day here and we hoped to end on a nicer note but that didn't happen. We did take the girls and Krystina out for dinner. Oh yeah, Rymma had school today due the school having closed last week for the flu epidemic so she and Krystina took pics and Julia passed on going to school one last time :o).

Tomorrow is coming with happiness and sadness all rolled into one. We are happy about leaving with our girls. However, we are literally dreading saying goodbye to Krystina, Nastya, Marina, Vica, and so many other friends we have made here. God is at work here and I am certain we will be coming back.

Another thing I forgot was we got to meet one of Julia's caregivers tonight. Julia has spent a lot of time with her and it truly meant a lot to her that we took her tonight to say goodbye. We took Julia shopping earlier today to buy her caretaker a needlepoint. We got so see a lot of Julia's paintings and drawings. She loves art! It was nice to meet someone who has looked out for our Julia till she could become part of our family. :-)

Oh, one more thing before I forget to mention -- Rymma's birthday is Thursday, March 6th, and she will turns 14. So if we happen to return that day, it would be aweome to see Happy Birthday signs for her as well as Welcome signs-k?

Unless we blog on the train tomorrow night, this will be it till monday night.

We love you all!

Agape,
John

P.S. I will update with a more detailed post of the last few days as I am able. Back to packing! :o) - Lucia