Adventure. That’s not even a big enough word to describe what this is for me. And it wouldn’t be that for some people, but for me this nothing short of stepping outside my comfort zone.
I received a call this morning from our adoption facilitator, Alla, informing me that Maria (the orphanage director) called her in a panic. My first thought? The revolution is taking over Cherkassy and they’ve got to get me out because it’s no longer safe for me to be here.
Thankfully, it was not quite the situation forming in my mind. Rather, she called concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get back to the apartment from the orphanage tonight because of the snow. Oh yes. We have snow. Lots of it! I could hear the wind howling throughout the night (since most of my nights are spent more awake than asleep, I hear lots of things). When I pulled back the blinds this morning, sure enough there was snow blowing through the sky completely horizontally “Ooooh, that could make for an interesting drive to the orphanage,” I thought.
Not more than an hour later I was given instructions by Maria via Alla to pack some things and bring them with me to the orphanage as that’s where I will be staying this evening.
“Maria in a panic. She worried you will not drive to apartment tonight. You vill sleep at orphanage vhere you be safe and varm. You vill pack your backpack or someving with comfortable clothes, maybe some water, your computer. Maria have comfortable place for you to sleep. She give you blanket and pillow so you be varm enough. You leave everything else at thee apartment for tomorrow.”
So, sleeping in an orphanage was not exactly on my bucket list but, well, when you receive strict instructions from a Urkainian woman who has authority over your children the only proper response is, “Da.”
With just 20 minutes (10 of which would be dedicated to putting on the 10 outer layers of clothing necessary to brave the weather and to please Maria because it makes her very upset when they see you not dressed “appropriately” here in this cold weather) to pack my things before the driver arrived to pick me up, I scurried around like a bit of a mad woman, heart fluttering, nervous. My biggest concern? Water! I only bought one small bottle that I refill when I’m in the apartment, but I’m used to drinking at least a gallon of water a day and since being here my water consumption has decreased drastically. I might have just a slight bit of anxiety over it actually. They tell you it’s okay to drink the water here, but like I mentioned earlier it’s green…with floaties. And in my book, green water is not clean water. Also, I do not need additional iron in my diet from the floaties as I already take a supplement for that! I digress.
So with my one bottle of water that I will savor for my entire stay here, my computer loaded with pictures to show the kids, my toothbrush and my comfortable clothes to sleep in I was ready.
|Smiling only because I hadn't gone outside yet.|
The driver arrived and grinned a wide grin as he said something regarding the snow falling from the sky. I think they think we don’t have snow in America. I just smile and nod and pretend like it’s totally new to me.
And off we sledded, I mean drove, to the orphanage. What amazes me is that it doesn’t matter whether rain or shine, cold, wet, dry there are people walking…always walking outside. Children sporting backpacks on their way to school, mothers carrying toddlers to various destinations, men and women both off to work. And they just cruise around like it’s no big deal trudging through snow like this. I don’t know how you ever get accustomed to that, but I suppose it’s no different than me feeling that it’s only hot on a summer day in Arizona when the temperature climbs above 105 degrees.
Somehow Nicolai managed to drive me through the not exactly snow plowed streets of Cherkassy to the orphanage gates.
|View through a window just inside the front door of the orphanage.|
Inside I was welcomed by Maria. With food, of course. Tea and these wafers that I have grown to love while here.
Then she was off and not more than 3 minutes later I heard the sound of little feet headed in my direction. “Mommy!” squealed one little voice and “Hi Mom, how are you?” from the other, a bit more calm in his welcome. Maria left us and we had about a half hour together just the three of us. I showed them pictures, many of which Kate has already seen, but they were all new to Max. Pictures dating back to before Adam and I were married, to me being pregnant with Charlee, Charlee as a toddler, me pregnant with Andee, Andee as a baby, all the way to Christmas this past year.
The best part? Using the words “home, family, mom, dad, sister, grandma, grandpa, cousin, aunt, uncle, Max and Kate” all to describe the images.
I wonder more of what Max is thinking these days that I wonder about Kate. She, when she’s with just me and Max, is exactly the same little girl that I grew to know and love while she lived with us. He, on the other hand, doesn’t have that history with me, with our family. Does it give him comfort knowing that Kate has experienced it and does he put faith in her experience that he will like it too? Does he wonder why we chose him to be part of our family too? Does he wonder if we’ll change our minds? Is he confident that we know that he is our son?
Maybe he doesn’t think of these things at all. Maybe I do too much thinking. But when another little girl who daily works to convince me to take her home to “Amereeca” grabs ahold of me and says “Mama?” I am torn. I want to embrace her, to love on her, to give her hope, but the last thing I want is for the two that I’ve come for to feel threatened. I want to tell them, “This is the real deal. We have come for you. You are wanted.” So I do, but not with those words. Instead I squeeze them a little tighter than the rest, hold them a little longer, watch them a bit more intently and smile just a bit wider for them. Do they know the difference? Probably not, but it’s the only way I can communicate to them for now that they have my heart…all of it. And while I love these other children, the Lord has directed Adam and I to them. He is making a place in our family for them. Their names are the ones on our documentation. They are the ones for whom we’re preparing rooms, researching English learning programs, stocking up on Ukrainian recipes. It’s for them. Those two. I don’t know why the Lord led us to the two of them and not others. Which is hard. The others are no less deserving of a family. And as I sat in a room with all of them yesterday I thought to myself, “My goodness it’s a good thing the Lord is leading us in this because I could not say no to these faces. Not a single one. How could I possibly choose?” And I rest in knowing that I did not do the choosing. The Lord did. Just as He chose me and I have no more worth or value than the next person. There is nothing making me any more deserving of His love. In fact, I deserve none of it and He still chose me.
So I am in awe of the way the Lord has orchestrated this. How HE has chosen each of our four children. Two the old fashioned way and these two through adoption.
This is all His work. Tonight I will sleep in an orphanage in Ukraine. Yes, that is confirmation enough for me that this is His, not mine. He continues to remind me of this daily, but these last few days being here have a special way of solidifying that truth in ways nothing else could.
This girl sitting on this couch in an orphanage in Ukraine. This isn’t me. Adam, my parents and many of my friends can vouch for that. I like comfortable. I like Gilbert, Arizona. I like clean water. I like fewer layers of clothing. I like mattresses (that’s not what they sleep on here in case you were wondering...not sure what they are, but they don’t qualify as mattresses). I like organized driving and Target. I like hand sanitizer and prefer coffee over tea.
But all these things seem so small to me in these moments. Because while I like those things, what I love is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s got me right where he wants me and Adam right now. I don’t want to be content with mudpies when I can have a holiday at sea. And this is a glimpse of the sort of holiday that I believe the Lord has in mind for us when we follow Him, even though we'll never do it perfectly.