Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have really enjoyed being home over the last few days, and are finally beginning to adjust to the current time zone.  We've had great times with family and friends while here, and are so glad that we decided to spend our wait at home where we're most comfortable.  Many of you have been asking when we will actually see Sveta again, and when we will gain custody of her.  Let me attempt to explain what will happen once we return to Russia::

I (Jessi) will leave Greensburg on the 9th and will arrive in Moscow on the 10th.  If all goes well, I will travel straight to Vladimir and pick up the documents from the court that we need (not exactly sure what documents these are).  Then I will go with V to apply for Sveta's passport.  It takes about 2 weeks to come back to us.  There is a chance that when we apply for the passport we will also make a short visit to see Sveta.

If all doesn't go well, I'll travel to Vladimir, then I will wait until the docs are ready and then apply for the passport.

Then, I'll spend time with the team that is there and I'll read a LOT of books on my Kindle.

Barry will leave Gburg on the 19th and arrive in Moscow on the 20th.  I'll take a taxi to meet him and I'll be SO glad he's there after so long.  The next few days will be spent (hopefully) traveling to visit Sveta daily and then sight-seeing in a few places around the area.

Once we receive Sveta's passport, we will then gain custody of her.  We will travel to Moscow and apply for her Visa to return to the states.  She'll also have a medical exam there.  We've decided to have her stay in the orphanage rather than have her stay with us during that time because she's comfortable there.  We're trying to avoid having her make a transition multiple times, and we've decided that this is the best option for her.

We are hoping to fly home near the end of January, but it will all depend on paperwork and how quickly things are accomplished.

I'm sure many of you are wondering about some kind of "homecoming" party...and I can't blame you.  Barry and I have gone round and round about what we feel is best for Sveta...and I've not landed on a decision.  We are going to wait and see how Sveta is doing with us in Moscow before we make the call.  Many of you, I know, would like to come to the airport to see us arrive home...but most likely we will not be sharing our exact travel plans.  We are exhausted on a normal flight home from Russia, and we can't imagine after traveling with Sveta home that we'd want to have a huge party at the airport.  It would be overwhelming to say the least. 

We are working on a few options for how to share our homecoming with you.  We realize that so many have prayed, and financially supported us bringing Sveta home, and we want to share this event with you...but we also are called to protect Sveta and do what is best for her.  With that said, we hope and pray you will understand and respect our final decision when it is made.

On a completely different passport with a new adoption visa will arrive Monday morning - so I'm good to go!!  YAY!!

Hope you all have a wonderful new years eve!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Made it safely

I guess I forgot to let everyone know that we made it home safely.  :)  Jet lag is kicking us this time around, but we're getting over it slowly.  I'll post more later...have to run Barry to church!

Thanks for prayers for were great!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2 of 3 will be home for Christmas

Barry and I are sitting in the airport in Moscow waiting to check in. We are very early.

We will be home by about 9 pm after celebrating 4 hours of Christmas day sleeping and about 26 traveling. In total Christmas will last 33 hours for us. Strange.

We did all of our Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve... Which s just another day in Russia. Their big holiday is the New Year and the Christmas is the 7th. Christmas isn't a big deal here for most. Santa is replaced by Father Frost and apparently kids go to neighboring homes to ask for candy.

We both have mixed emotions about leaving but really feel like our decision was best. I will be traveling back to Russia on Jan. 9th to file for Sveta's passport and Barry will meet me 10 days later. The change of plans came because of the holiday in Russia. Our 10 business day wait turned into more like 20 because of all the time off at the New Year. We also re-evaluated our plan because we couldn't get definite answers so we had to make a decision on what we knew as fact...not what we hoped. It took me time to come around...but I feel confident now.

It will be nice to be home:to see friends, sleep on our bed, and celebrate Christmas with family...only a little late. But, we can't help feel strange about leaving our daughter so far away. We have joy knowing that our tickets are already purchased for the next round. Please pray we can get a new visa for me quickly so we don't have to change my flight.

We will post pics of our trip and update more when we can type on an actual computer. I am using my iPod. Too little.

One last extremely important thing: thank you for yor prayers for court. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Thank you for praying before you went to bed. Thank you for praying at home during court. Thank you for opening the church to have people come pray and for going to pray. Thank you for loving us and loving Sveta. This journey is not over...and even when Sveta gets home it isn't. We will continue to need your prayers. Thank you...and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

She said "Da"!

We arrived at the court 15 minutes early. The judge arrived 20 minutes late.

The judge entered and everyone stood. We were then seated. I (Barry) was to stand and represent Jessi and I. I made a few opening statements, then the judge asked several questions. Then jJessi was asked to stand and answered a few questions.

The court hearing took about an hour and a half. In the end the judge said 'da'. So we now have a daughter!

Jessi is online now working on tickets to fly home. We'd planned to stay here until we could bring her home but with the holiday (new year and Christmas ... which is Jan 7th) the wait is considerably longer. We're looking to travel home on Christmas day. Jessi would then return to Russia around January 9th to start paperwork. I will then join her around the 19th to bring our daughter home.

It's strange to know that we have a daughter in Russia and will now leave her for a few weeks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Update to now...

THIS IS LONG…it’s a recap of the last few days.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Barry wrote about his morning that day, but I slept until he woke me around 7. I asked to sleep even more.  Which I did, until about 7:30.  I’m glad I slept, because I think this was one of the longest days of my life.  Here’s what I wrote as the recap:

We got up and had a breakfast of donuts, bread with jam and a banana.  I had tea, and Barry had coffee.  We enjoyed the morning and were picked up at 10am.  We went to the head doctor of the region who asked questions about our education and the number of times we’ve been married.  From there we saw the dermatologist who looked over our skin as we spun.  Akward. We also had our blood drawn…and I felt better about it when I saw the woman put the needle in a sharps container of sorts.  Wish I could have taken a pic of that room. From there we saw the neurologist who asked me if I had anything wrong with my head or if I had epilepsy.  She asked Barry about his spine and if he’d be been in the army.  When he said “no”, she asked “why not?”  He told her he never decided to go into the army.  I quickly whispered to him “it’s not required” and he repeated it loudly so it was interpreted.  She seemed to be ok with that answer and signed and stamped our form.  After leaving there, we visitied at least 3 other doctors who didn’t speak to us at all.  We were dropped off at the big mall downtown to eat.  We ate a McDonald’s (ordered from the picture menu) and used the wi-fi.  Barry also ordered 2 chocolate muffins for dessert in Russian!! J

Sidenote:: I truly couldn’t do this without him.  He’s so adventurous and I’m skeptical.  I guess that’s why it works.  I’ll talk more about that later. 

We left McDonald’s around 2:30pm and headed to the baby home to see Sveta.  We arrived and tried to see the director, but she was busy.  We heard Sveta coming down the stairs to play with us a little before 4.  She was talking up a storm but we could only understand “Mama and Papa.”  She walked in the room and went right past us to our bag of toys.  We aren’t sure if she remembers us, or if she just recognizes us from the pictures we left.  We played with the toys, and with some flashcard apps on the ipods.  It was evident that she’s not held often at all, and that she is expected to do most things on her own.  She’s unsure of both of us, but especially Barry.  (insight to come)  She said she was ready to go back to her group at about 6.  The caregivers have her kiss us on the cheek each time she leaves…I can’t wait until she does it without being forced!!

We drove back to Vladimir, stopped at our flat for a form, drove back across the city to pick up our registration documents, took a bus to Globus for dinner and ate around 9pm.  We grabbed a few items we needed, and headed home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2011

We didn’t get up until 8:40 and we were being picked up at 10.  Barry wasn’t feeling very good last night, or this morning at all.  He thinks it is lack of sleep, travel, etc.

We got in the car with V and our driver at 10.  We went to get a paper notarized (we waited in the car).  Then we went to the infectionist.  Barry and I followed V in the building, put our little blue booties on our feet (we’ll take a pic if possible), and waited in the hallway for maybe 5 minutes.  V came back out and said that we were done.  She asked where we’d like to go.  We just said back to our flat.  So, we came home and napped.  We had lunch at Globus again (it’s a huge store and has a great cafeteria with wi-fi).  At 2:30 we left and waited in the car outside the head doctor’s office for him to seal the entire medical document.  It took a while.  We went to see Sveta after that.

She liked the beads and bubbles we bought for her…but she was still very skittish.  She had TONS of energy though and bounced up and down the hall a lot.

We went to Globus for dinner once again, but then we bought groceries.  Barry thought the experience was FUN…I on the other hand was overwhelmed.  I felt like I couldn’t make a decision and that I didn’t have any idea what I was doing.  I’ve never felt so lost in a grocery store.  I think I was also getting very tired, so trying to find food to eat that was safe and was the best buy was not what I wanted to do at the moment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today…finally in real time!!  We left to see Sveta at 8:20. I fell asleep in the car because last night was rough.  I had a very difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. 

We played with Sveta for a little over an hour.  She was mellow today.  She didn’t really want to interact with Barry or I.  She did however come to LOVE our water bottles.  She decided that Barry’s huge nalgene was hers and her little sippy cup was his.  Quite funny.  She wanted so much to pour the water between the three, but settled for placing them in a nice row.  The bubbles were less interesting today…but the brush and ink pens were the favorite.  She seemed to like the Rapunzel Barbie, but wasn’t sure what to do with it.  We are seeing that she doesn’t really know how to play…especially with adults.

When it was time for Sveta to eat lunch, we were able to sit down with the director and ask more questions about Sveta and her life there.  We asked about her birthparents, her attitude, her friends, etc.  Here are a few interesting things we found out:

1.     Her best friend was adopted just a short time ago to a family in the States.  We hope that we will be able to reunite the two girls often.  You can tell that she misses her friend, but that she knows that her friend “has gone home.”  After her friend was adopted, our Sveta kept asking where we were.  We know she “gets” it a little…at least she has a positive view of adoption…even if she has no idea what it really is.
2.     She’s never interacted with males.  There is a driver (and maybe 1-2 other men) at the orphanage, but they never go upstairs near the children.  She’s probably seen them, but that’s IT!  So, the fact that she’s a bit uneasy about Barry is to be expected.  She’ll come around in no time, we hope.  He loves her so much, and I can’t wait to see her crawl up in his lap.  Pray that she opens up to him more and more.
3.     She knows her colors, some shapes, animals and their sounds, and is the “star” of her class.

On a completely different note, we are hoping to hear more about the passports tomorrow.  Please be praying we don’t have to leave Russia.  I’d much rather just get used to one culture, than move between others.  J

We get to have dinner with a few friends tonight and are looking forward to that.  We’ve been so busy that we haven’t seen them all yet!!  We also hope to have internet in our flat within the next week or so…that way we can email and skype, etc.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 1 in Russia

Awake at 2:49am.  Laid in bed for a long while, then went back to sleep.  Then up again at 4:42am.  Couldn’t shake it this time. I’m up.

In a skillet I am boiling some water Jessi filtered last night.  The water will become  coffee in a few minutes.  I found a few ‘doughnuts’ at the market last night. There’s a picture of a raspberry on the front of the container.  We’ll see how they turn out.

We arrived in Moscow a little over an hour early yesterday.  We had no issues getting from our terminal to Vita, who was there waiting for us.  She greeted us with hugs, then called for the driver she’d hired. 

After a few minutes the same driver we’d had in April pulled up.  He was driving a newer car.  A Kia this time.  The back of his little Kia barely held our two suitcases and a carry on.  So, we sat in the back seat with a carry on, our personal bags (mine a computer bag and Jessi’s a large Thirty-One bag),  and an umbrella stroller.  It was a full back seat, but comfortable enough for our three hour drive to Vladimir. 

While in the car Jessi and I soon dozed off.  Neither of us had slept much on the plane.  I think we felt a little more at ease in the car knowing we were in Vita’s capable hands at this point. 

We woke just before arriving in Vladimir.  Jessi sent a text message to Frenchy with news that we were close, then began to post a blog so our readers might know we’d arrived safely.  I began to study the path we came in on.  I was looking for any detail that might help me navigate the city in the month we’d be here. 

We drove through a valley on the south east side of town.  I looked hard to our left – toward the southwest.  I could only see the smokestacks in the distance which had become a familiar landmark during our April visit.  Just on this side of those stacks was the road which heads south out of the city – toward Sveta.

We drove straight to our flat and by the time the luggage was unloaded Frenchy came around the corner.  After a few hugs and a phone number from Vita we were on our way up to our January home.  It’s a one bedroom flat, on the 6th floor of a building on the north side of the city.  I’d estimate that the flat just over 600 square feet. 

Frenchy showed us around the flat, then cleaned our refrigerator – it’d been left unplugged with the doors closed.  Jessi and I unpacked some, but were eager to get dinner.  Jessi’s last meal was dinner on the plane … about 12 hours earlier.  She’d not eaten the breakfast offered on the plane as she wasn’t feeling well. 

Globus (a walmart-like store with a great cafeteria) is about a 5 minute bus ride or 20 minute walk away to the north.  Frenchy’s apartment, though we’ve not been there, is about a 20 minute walk in the other direction. 

Soon we left our flat.  Frenchy helped us get copies of our passports which we’d deliver to Svetlana (the owner of the flat) so she can register us.  After leaving the copy store we walked on up the road to Globus where we exchanged money, ate dinner, and said goodbye to Frenchy.  Jessi and I picked up some bananas, ‘doughnuts’, jam, bread, and yogurt before heading out to bus 24 and traveling to the stop very near our flat. 

After arranging a few things in the room we laid down on our twin mattress at 8:00pm. 

I’m now starting my second cup of coffee as Jessi sleeps.  My mind is filled with so many thoughts.  As I glance over my final list of things I had to do before leaving I begin to wonder how things are back home.  But the tiny clothes I arranged yesterday in our suitcase keep demanding my attention.  I packed the clothes back in a suitcase as we won’t need them for about two weeks. 

Just two weeks and we may (Lord willing) have a little girl who’s nearly four in this flat with us.  Any soon-to-be-parent (by whatever means – adoption, birth, or stork) knows what’s going through my mind.  And I have a hard time catching just one of those many thoughts long enough to work through it. 

Through all of the events of the past week and a half (since we received our court date) there continues to be three thoughts that overwhelm me most.  First, is the overwhelming support of church, family, and friends.  I could never put into words the love I’ve seen in so many who have prayed, given, asked, made things, and offered their hands. 

Second, my wife.  I’d never dreamed three years ago that I’d be so happily married and pursuing being a father on such a path.  I have less fear being a father because of Sveta’s mother, Jessi.  She is going to be in her element with a child.  And I look forward to watching her in this role that she’s longed for for so long.  I cannot wait to pursue her as my wife and encourage her as parent together in this next season of  our life. 

Finally, our God has overwhelmed me because I know that He has moved in the hearts of those in our church, family, and ring of friends.  I know He has brought Jessi and I together.  And I know He placed this Russian little girl on my lap a year and six days ago.  While we’ve cleverly named a blog about our little girl’s path home, I’m learning that there’s more than just her on this journey. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We made it!

Our flights were just fine...and customs took no time at all...neither did passport control.  Barry and I have not been able to sleep pray we can tonight.

We just pulled into Vladimir and are headed to our home away from home for a while.  More later when We settle.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Emotional Overload

Might just bullet point some of the thoughts swirling in my head:
1. Packed a suitcase last night...weighed it: 49.5 pounds.  Yeah, I'm that good.  Haha.  Not really.
2. Paperwork is all apostilled and I'm not going to Indy today!  (Went Monday-Thursday)
3. Our business visas should arrive today as they were sent out yesterday.  Praise God!
4. I've heard rumors about the 10 day waiting period being changed to a 30 day waiting period.  Our agency doesn't know of any such thing...but "anything could happen" is what I was told.  PRAY that we're grandfathered in, or more so that God does a miracle and all waiting is waived!! He's BIG...He can do it.
5. I've got to remember to pack more socks.
6. The sheets need to be washed.
7. Oops, can't forget the hair dryer.
8. I get to see Sveta on Monday.
9. One more sleep until I get on a plane.
10. We're going to be parents.
11. We're going to be parents.
12. She's going to come here now.
13. What if we have to go to Estonia for Adoption visas?
14. What if we have to come home.
15. We'll do what it takes.

Have to expand on #15.  I was thinking last night, or this morning (they've been running together) about the fact that we will do whatever it takes for her to be home:
If it means we take a train to Estonia to get different visas.
If it means that we have to wait 30 days to gain custody.
If it means we'll go through additional medical appointments.
If it means that we'll have to do whatever...we will do it.

It's like the point during labor and delivery when the doctor realizes that a natural birth plan isn't going to work in this case.  He looks at the mother and says, we're going to need to do a C-section.  The mother would NEVER say, "no, if we can't do it naturally, we're not doing it."  That's how I feel.  We've "gone into labor" and we're not going to stop until she's at home safe with us. It's just that this labor will take days.  Haha.

We'll hopefully update once more before we leave the country.  :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Paperchase

Yesterday I told Teresa (our notary) goodbye thinking I was done with paper chasing.  Today I told Teresa (our notary) bye.  Tomorrow I will go see her again.

I will be so glad to be officially done chasing papers...when Sveta has been home 3 years and all of our post-adoption reports are completed.

Couple of new prayer requests::

We weren't able to get adoption visas.  This means that most likely we will not be able to apply for Sveta's passport without first getting an adoption visa for one or both of us (Barry and/or Jessi).  So, without going into lots of details, please pray with us that God will work out how to go about this process.

Second, pray that Barry and I receive our passports/visas on Friday.  We don't want to have to wait for them on Saturday because we have to leave fairly early to make our plane.

Third, transitions.  There will be many.  Pray for them.

Updates will probably be short for a while as we are rushing around trying to check things off lists.  Many of you have asked how you can help, and we GREATLY appreciate it.  If we think of anything, we'll let you know.  Probably on our way to the airport when we realize we forgot to take care of something!!  :) 

Friday, December 9, 2011


Hopefully you will find this post full of abundant joy (I know it's redundant...and in this case, I don't care) and abundant details.  I've gotten a few messages saying, "can't you blog the details so I don't have to ask you a bijillion questions?"  I love it.  It's such an encouragement to know so many are following and supporting and praying.  I'll first tell the story of how we found out, and then I'll talk about details from there of where we are now.

Wednesdays are my days to work all day that the church.  We have a staff meeting at 10 each week, and just before 10 I downloaded my emails to my ipod while standing in our overly crowded office.  I saw that I had an email from the assistant at our adoption agency so I opened it immediately.  I read these words:  "GREAT NEWS, you have a court date!!!!"  I started yelling that we had a court date.  Barry quickly swirled around in his chair and all the other staff members came into the office.  I was trying to skim the very long email to find out when it was when Barry said something like, "when is it?  Get to that part!"  I told him I was trying...December 22nd or 23rd.  We need to arrive on the 18th.

We both were crying, and hugged each other.  Then the ever awesome Jon Porter came and prayed with all of us as a staff.  It was perfect.  He had words I didn't at the praise our God for giving this gift and to give Him all the glory.  Jon then told us that instead of having staff at 10 we'd wait an hour so we could go call people. He also told Barry and I that from here on out we're not taking on new projects, and we are to be preparing to leave.  

Barry and I went into the sanctuary to discuss the paperwork that we'd need to hand carry...because if we couldn't bring it, we couldn't go to court.  Here's what we needed:
1. FBI clearances
2. Russian medicals (which we will do in Russia, obviously)
3. Homestudy letter saying this that and the other
4. Information on the taxes for our house to proof we have a house

2,3,4 Check...those are easy.  It was the FBI clearance we were worried about.  Some of you may remember the post about us getting fingerprinted again.  Well, I called the FBI.  They said they thought they might be able to be here by the 16th but weren't able to promise it.  So, we called the USCIS (they're a government agency who approved us to bring Sveta into the country...and for our approval we had to have FBI checks), then we tried the Indiana State Police, and Ken was GREAT.  He called us back quickly to tell us that he would print our clearance again with an added note about them running the FBI clearance.  They would be ready for pick up that afternoon.  So, we called the man who has gotten more paperwork for us than ANYONE.  Ray, my father-in-law, works in the same building.  So we called to ask if he'd pick up the clearances and get them apostilled for us.  He said yes, and then Barry told him about our court date.  So, if you are wondering who we called first:  Ray, and thank you, for running all over Indianapolis for us, and saving me so many trips!  We can't thank you enough.

So, we spent the next little while calling people until we needed to go to the staff meeting.  I'm pretty sure we spent the entire day flitting around not accomplishing much because our hearts were so full.  We were going to see our girl!!  By the end of Wednesday we had started work on flights, visas, medical insurance, and transferring money from our Boaz account to our personal account. 

Yesterday, and today have been spent checking things off of our ever growing list:  from scheduling hair appointments to sending off Visa applications, to putting away our Christmas decorations. 

When we get the list accomplished we will get on an airplane on Saturday evening and fly to Paris and then onto Moscow.  We will arrive in Moscow at 4:15pm on the 18th.  That is 7:15am Sunday morning here.  We’ll be 9 hours ahead.  We will leave the airport and go straight to Vladimir where we will stay in an apartment.  On Monday and Tuesday mornings we will complete our medicals, and see Sveta in the afternoons.  Then we will see her on Wednesday and Thursday as well.  Court will be at 10am on Friday, December 23, 2011.  (1am in Indiana)

Once court is complete, we hope the judge says, “da” or “yes.”  We will then wait 10 days for “gotcha day.”  We will see sights, celebrate Christmas, our anniversary, and New Years while Sveta is still at the orphanage.  We don’t know if we’ll be able to see her during that time or not.  Then, if I count correctly, we’ll pick Sveta up for good on January 2nd.  We will have to wait to apply for her Russian passport until January 9th and then wait about 2-3 weeks for it to arrive.  Once we have it, we will travel to Moscow for her medical, and to get an American Visa.  Then we’ll fly home.

We will be gone 4-6 weeks most likely.  And we can’t wait! 

This is long enough already…but be praying:
1.    For our sanity as we pack and prepare.
2.    For the Russian Consulate to grant us adoption visas which will be better than business visas.
3.    For our time together as a family to be a time of attachment and bonding.
4.    For favor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family Gatherings at Christmas

Tonight’s Jr. High at the Greensburg Campus lesson was about Simeon (the old dude in the temple court who was told that he’d not die until he saw the Messiah) and how he waited.  He waited.  He waited for who knows how long.  Then the day came.  He was lead by the Spirit to the Temple and there he saw Jesus.  (Check it out in Luke 2)

Waiting is hard.  Waiting to hear from the Russian court about a court date WAS hard.  But it’s over.  We’ve heard.  We got word.  We have a date.  That waiting part is over.  And in ten days we will begin the next phase.  We’ll travel to Russia for our December 22nd (or 23rd) court date to chat with a judge who will either send us through a gauntlet of questions or quickly get us through to being a family. 

Jessi will probably add to this blog, but I want to share what I’ve felt today. 

A ton of excitement (finally!  A court date! We’ll finally see her again!!!!!!!!)

A little bit of fear (I’m going to be a dad! What will this judge be like?)

Mostly.  Gratitude.  Toward God and His people.  We’ve seen Him bring us strength when we didn’t know if we could take another step.  We’ve seen Him provide.  He provided so much through His people.  I have been completely overwhelmed today as we saw face after face and heard voice after voice and read text after text.  God has moved the hearts of His people and He – through them – has encouraged us beyond anything I could ever imagine.  People have prayed, given, served, and hugged us more than I could ever understand. 

I could write a thousand blogs and never quite capture how I feel.  I am completely overwhelmed.  And in a very good way.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness.  I am amazed that we’ve never felt alone in this.  So many have walked with us.  There is absolutely no way we could have made this journey (though it’s not even over) without the prayers and actions of so many.

Lord, thank you for these who have been faithful to read, eager to give, so thoughtful with questions, and ever trusting in You.  May they be filled with joy like Simeon this Christmas as they again peer into the manger for a glimpse of Jesus.  May waiting cease this season for many who wait for justice, for peace, for family, for love, for forgiveness, for freedom and all else that You bring.  Come, Jesus.  We love you. 

There is nothing left on my Christmas list this year. 

Merry Christmas,

Jessi’s additions:  “Ditto, and Amen.  And, also, I will post more of the details about how we found out, and the next stages of the process soon.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No idea.

Keep praying. Tuesday's working hours are over in Russia now, so if Vita was going to see the judge, she already did.

We aren't sure she was able to though...we have no idea.  I promise to post something as soon as we hear.


Thursday, December 1, 2011


I received word this morning that most likely the hold up in us being able to be assigned a court date is due to the upcoming elections in Russia on Sunday, December 4th.  We are unsure about whether or not it is expected that the judge will be re-elected or not, but we are hoping that he is...simply because the change over between judges will most likely add time to our already excruciatingly long wait.  Please be praying that when V meets with the judge on Tuesday of next week that she will be met with favor and we'll receive a date to stand before the judge.

As we wait, we've been blessed by so many who are in support of us completely.  We appreciate each one of you, and your prayers.

I wanted to adapt and add to something I read not long ago from another adoptive mom who wrote about what adoptive parents need and don’t need from those supporting them during the wait. I’ve shorted it quite a bit and put it in my own words so it might be less offensive to some…but if you want to read the original blog that resounded with so much of me right now you can find it here:

Waiting is hard.  Really hard.  Every day I wake up, I realize that my little girl is waking from a nap, and preparing to eat dinner…a dinner that probably won’t fill her completely as is eerily similar to the lunch she ate earlier.  Then she will play alone, or with children that are younger than her, and she will go to bed: without a bedtime story, without a kiss on the forehead, without a prayer, without being tucked in by a loving parent.

Then I go through my day, and when I lay down at night I remember that our little Sveta is waking up, to another day of the same routine: breakfast, walk, lessons, lunch, nap, etc.  There’s little adventure, there’s little love, there’s little room for bonding with a person that loves her unconditionally.

So, in the midst of such difficulty, how do we remain “so strong” as some of you have put it.  Here’s the secret: we haven’t.  We’re losing it.  At least I’m losing it.  Tears, fits of anger, hurt and longing because we aren’t with our daughter, still.  How on earth can you help if we can’t even keep it together?  Here are some thoughts:

First, what NOT to do/say:
1.    “God’s timing is perfect!”  “He has a plan!” etc…While, we KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true, it’s not helpful to our hearts.  Our hearts are crying out that our little girl is without so much.  We need people to acknowledge how painful this journey is for us…and yet how rewarding it will be.  Event to say, “I have no idea what God is up to, and it has to be so hard to trust Him in this time…but keep the faith – He’s up to something” would be a better option.  It acknowledges God’s sovereignty and our pain too.
2.    “Are you going to have kids of your own?” or “I know about this couple who worked so hard on an adoption, and then they got pregnant so they stopped the process.”  Or anything of similar nature. 

Sveta is ours.  Even if we got pregnant, Sveta is ours.  And really, our decisions about how we choose to grow our family, are just that: our decisions. Thanks.

3.    Say nothing.  It’s like not talking about the giant elephant in the room.  Even if you aren’t sure what to say…say something.  A simple “we’re praying for you” if you really are, is an encouragement…or “you are in my thoughts.”  Or just hug us.  We need that some times.  I had a dear friend who asked how things were going…when I told her that Barry and I are dealing with the stress differently and that I have been baking a lot and then eating what I bake she had NO idea what to say.  So she got up and came over and hugged me.  And she simply said, “I didn’t know what to say, so I hugged you.”  It meant the world to me.
4.    Tell me horror stories of adoptions gone bad.  It’s like talking to a woman who is about to go into labor for the first time about the horrible birthing stories you’ve heard where women die, or are severely maimed by the process.  It’s just not kind…or needed…or helpful.  Thanks.

Second, what we’d LOVE to hear:

1.    Encourage us.  With real words from your heart…even if they are sloppy.  That’s our lives right now: sloppy.  We don’t need you to fix it, just to walk beside us in it.  Sometimes to just cry with us, pray with us, or bring us a latte because somehow that seems to make it less painful.
2.    We LOVE to talk about the adoption process, our story, and adoption as the heart of God.  Please ask questions!  We’d enjoy being able to talk about things.  It’s actually therapeutic…and we’re hoping you may choose to adopt one day too.
3.    Pray for us.  We need it.  Some days my prayer has been to simply repeat: “love is patient. Love is patient. Love is patient.”  Get on your knees for us.  Write a prayer email or text.  Anything is appreciated.
4.     It’s ok to ask what we need in the moment.  I realize that so often it is hard to read my mind of what I need: I need to talk, I don’t want to talk about it, etc.  So, if you’ve got time to offer ask: do you want to simply sit and talk about the wait? Or do you want to be distracted and get out and have fun for an hour? 

I hope this helps…and wasn’t offense.  Just trying to be honest.   I’d LOVE feedback, or other adoptive families additions to these lists!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Today, I write in joy...not because we've moved forward and know when we will travel to court and to see Sveta...but joy because of all that I've been given.

This week has been full.  I'm not sure I can remember all of the details, but on Tuesday evening I know I emailed asking if we should go ahead and apostille the 6 new documents that the judge wanted.  Wednesday morning we got the go ahead.  Basically this just means that V was able to read over them, and they seem to be correct.  We still have NO word on whether or not the judge wants them prior to court, or if we can just carry a copy to him.

Barry and I talked about all of this, and decided it would be smart to have 2 copies of everything apostilled.  Then we could send one out and we'd have one to carry just in case he said that would be fine.  So, I ran to the church and began printing and copying.  Then I went to get things notarized, but Teresa had taken the day off (and I can't blame it was the day before Thanksgiving).  No luck before 10am.  We had staff meeting at the church, then our Children's Ministry Staff meeting...then I was  off.  Thankfully we were able to find another notary that we know who was willing to stay at the bank long enough for me to get over there and have things notarized.  YAY.  16 documents signed and stamped.

I drove to Indianapolis and on my way got a little distracted and missed my I drove around downtown for a bit.  But I saw a HUGE hawk on a stop sign, so that was cool.  I arrived at the Secretary of State office to be told by the woman I gave my docs to that it would take her a while since she doesn't normally apostille things.  So, I ran to the restroom, and upon my return was told that the notary did not print her name under her signature.  I looked at the woman and said, "so can I just print her name?"  She said, "I can't watch you do such a thing."

So, I promptly walked out of the office, sat on the floor in the hallway and printed the name of our notary on about 14 documents.  I went back in and a different lady helped me (I recognized her).  She told me to take a seat.  After a bit, I had to run outside and feed the parking meter and then come back through security.  Finally she said she was done...but she couldn't apostille some of the documents because either the notary didn't write her state or county of residence, or because the notary stamp with the name was illegible.  So, I left with about 10 of 16 documents apostilled.

I got home in time to brine the turkey and prep other dishes for our Thanksgiving meal that we hosted this year.  Never done that before, but it turned out GREAT!!  Enjoyed time with some of the people we love, but wished we could have spent it with a handful more.  Then yesterday we woke up and did NOTHING.  Now, for those of you that know us well...this NEVER happens.  It was incredible.  We played Skip Bo for a while, drank hot chocolate, and didn't clean up a thing.  Then last night Barry took me on date night.  We went back to the restaurant where we ate on our first date (it's been exactly 3 years, to the date), we grabbed cheesecake, and starbucks too...and walked around the mall a bit.  Best date ever.  Loved it.  Love him.

Anyway, today we've got to actually get the dishes from Thanksgiving into the dishwasher.  I've got to make a meal plan for December, Barry's going to work on the house, and we hope to get out and take Griffen for a walk.

On Monday, I'll be heading back to Indy to get the last of the documents apostilled.  And, this week, V is traveling back to Vladimir to visit the judge and law clerk.  She hasn't been able to get any answers on the phone, so she'll be visiting in person so that hopefully we can have a court date, and a single mom will get one too.

Please be praying for Vita's travel, and her daughter who is recuperating from surgery.  Pray also that we are able to receive a court date, and that the single lady who is trying to adopt will get one close to ours so we can travel together.

Thanks all!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

6. It's not a number I like.

First I must apologize to family that may read this and didn't get a phone call with an update.  I am sorry, but today was CRAZY and I honestly didn't want to call just to tell you that I didn't have a court date, still.

We do have a list of documents...6 to be exact...that need to be sent to the judge ASAP.  I'll be working on these tomorrow and will hopefully scan and send all of them to our in country rep by Friday morning.  Sadly, Friday morning is Friday evening in there's NO chance the judge will get them until next week.  Thankfully, Russian's don't celebrate Thanksgiving so next week is a normal work week for them.

Please continue to pray that the judge's heart will be softened and that these documents will be able to be hand delivered rather than sent prior to our court date.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Today? Monday? Any day?

Well, lots of random things have happened since I posted last.  One of which was I wrote a blog that I thought posted, but apparently didn't.  Don't know what happened there.

I don't always blog as I find everything out, because some of the things are just sad and no one really wants to hear about them (not even me).  But here's a recap of our week:

Weekend/Monday: We found out the the fingerprints from the Indiana State Police, although they are run on the national database, might not be accepted in court.  They might have to be on FBI letterhead. We also found out that the reason we haven't been given a court date was because the "regular judge" was on a business trip.  So, we did what only we would do...we called our friend Mike (a police officer in town), and asked if he'd be willing to fingerprint us.  I knew calling Mike was the best idea...I wanted to make sure the prints were done right the first time.  He was fabulous.  He did them electronically and even sometimes redid them because he didn't like the print even when the computer did.  I have NO doubt that the FBI will accept the ones we sent.  Thanks to Mike for taking so much time and caring so much about the details with us!! I also called a man that goes to our church thinking he might have pull with getting the FBI print clearances back sooner.  He didn't...but I was ready to pull any string I could to get them done faster than the 6-12 weeks their website states they will take.  Late Monday afternoon I spoke with our placing agency who said the ISP prints should be ok, and we might be able to make them work.

Tuesday: FBI received our prints via FedEx (thank you for taking lots of my money and getting my papers across the country by the next day).  Got an email at 6:01am that our in country personnel had been contacted about the FBI prints, but that she was in a government building in Vladimir and couldn't talk.  She was asked to check her email and get back to us as soon as she could.

Wednesday: At 4:20pm I couldn't take it anymore.  I emailed asking if we'd heard back from our personnel in Vladimir.  (My prayer had been that she was in the court and we were going to get a date).  I got an email back that evening stating that no, she hadn't heard but would call early in the morning.

Thursday: Received an email around 5:30am stating that V (our in country lady) couldn't open the attachment while in Vladimir about the FBI prints, and would open it now that she was at home.  She also informed us that V and the judge spoke while V was in Vladimir and that they were working on which documents would be acceptable and a court date.  Later in the evening we received word that V was faxing the FBI options to the court and would let us know if the judge decides to accept them.

Friday: It's currently 5:30pm in Russia, so says the clock that hangs in our home.  Things are closed for the day.  The judge has gone home to be with his family/friends. 

Saturday: Wait.
Sunday: Wait.

Pray with us that we see what God is doing soon.  I still believe we could hear about a date today...because maybe V hasn't gotten to hear computer yet.  Or maybe J (our state side lady) hasn't been able to forward the message on yet. If we can go to court on Friday, December 2nd...our Gotcha Day would be the day that we decided to adopt one year ago.  We still might be able to be home by Christmas at this point, but it's getting REALLY close.  Please be praying that our little girl can spend American Christmas with her Mama and Papa.  And that we can celebrate Russian Christmas (1/7) together as a family in our home.

Thanks for praying.  God is big, and we need Him to be big.  We can't do this on our own.  Only HE can make this happen.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November

It's adoption awareness month, which excites me a little.  I'm hoping that many people will hear about adoption and begin to understand that it is God's heart.

I know you are all dying to hear about a court date for us...and honestly...we are too!! Right now, all we know is that the court is "still examining our documents."  They have a few things they don't like: the length of time we've been married, there weren't enough pictures, etc.  We know that we are not in control of getting a court date (even though I'd like to be at times), but we do know who is in control!  I'm asking that you begin to pray with Barry and I for the judge who has our file.  Pray that his heart would be softened by God and that he would see that we are the family for Sveta.  Pray that the things he had issue with would fade away and he'd need nothing more for our file.  Pray that God would draw this judge to himself and that the judge would come to know our Lord.

Barry and I have been greatly encouraged by notes, prayers, flowers, gifts, hugs, and fun events that we get to be part of.  We're still in this limbo time where we aren't committing to anything right now.  If we are here for thanksgiving we might just drive around and visit all of you and grab turkey on our way!  :)  Please continue to pray for us...but especially be praying for our Sveta.  Barry and I have one another, but Sveta is without another member of her family.  She's with incredible caregivers, and we pray for them daily...but they aren't family.  Pray that Sveta would be growing and learning and developing as she was designed to.  And pray that we get to see her soon.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is what our in country personnel sent to the lady we work with here in the States yesterday about where we are with a court date.

"I submitted thier dossier to the court on last week when I was in Vladimir. Now I'm waiting to her from the court whether those documents are enough or not. Only if the judge will be satisfied with what he has, we'll be able to talk about the court date. But as you know he's will usually ask for some additional documents no matter what we send him."

So.  We know nothing more than we did 2 weeks ago.  Please continue to pray that the judge will grant a court date without additional documents.  If we have to send more docs, we would be set back at least 3 more weeks.  At this point, 3 weeks feels like a year.  Please also pray that we would hear back from the judge this week. 

Thank you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 more days at LEAST!

I got an email last night answering a TON of questions that I asked our facilitators...poor women!

Anyway, the email stated that she had just received our extra documents and would be taking them to the judge.  Once he has everything he will let her know if we need to send any additional documents.  She said it would be at least 10 days before she hears anything...and I assume that's business days.  So, 2 more weeks of praying and hoping and waiting.  PRAYER:: That he doesn't want any documents.  Or, if he does, that he's ok with us just bringing them to court!

The other, most fabulous, news in the email was about the process once we get to Russia.  We will get to see Sveta at least once before we go to court. Then we'll go to court.  After that we wait 10 days for the court proceedings to become official...then we can pick Sveta up while we wait for her passport.  I thought she had to wait at the orphanage...but I was wrong.  I'm SO glad I was!!  Anyway, this is big for us, because it means that while in Russia we can be together instead of an hour away from our precious daughter.  YAY!!!

That's all the news for now.  As soon as we hear anything, I'll let you know.  Right now I'm just praying we are back home before Christmas (because Russia shuts down around our Christmas through the first week of December!)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our contact was...

On Thursday we heard that our contact was in Vladimir.

That's all we've heard.

On another amazing note though, I was looking online for other families who had adopted from Vladimir too.  I came across this blog...and recognized the orphanage where this family adopted...and later realized that I knew the little girl too.

Come to find out it was a little girl that had stolen the hearts of my adopted family: the Jurgensen's.  They had been praying to find out where she was...and God answered their prayers.  Incredible.  She's been adopted by a Christian family somewhere in the midwest.

God writes stories...sometimes we want to hear the next part of the story when it just isn't time yet.  I'm thankful we know this part of her story.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Famous Quotes are False

Ok, so maybe not all famous quotes are false, but I know one that is:

"No news is good news." 

Not really.  No news is painful.  No news could be good news, or bad news, or it really could just be no news at all.

I think right now we're just at the no news part.  We've not heard a thing.  I don't know if the judge hasn't answered yet, or if he has and we just haven't heard yet.  We have no news.

I am going to start a petition that this little saying be changed to "no news is better than bad news."  I think it's more accurate.

On another note, only semi-adoption related:  My unbelievable husband has been rebuilding a wall in our sunroom so we can replace our windows and actually use this room on the back of our house.  It looks AMAZING...and he's done it in very little time.  He's still got a ways to go...but we are getting there.  I think Sveta will enjoy playing in there while mom and dad just stare out the HUGE windows!

Also, I must say a HUGE thank you to the Bible Bowl Teams at our church and their parents and "coaches" (we'll call them).  My friend Rachel and I went to their first competition on Sunday and they blessed me beyond belief not only by their knowledge of scripture, but also because they had made signs for Sveta and held them up to take a picture with me watching.  Amazing.  Love you guys!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Truth and a Dare (or more like a favor)

I read a blog today that brought tears to my eyes.  It's written by a woman I've never met: Jen Hatmaker.  Check it out

"Faith has nothing to do with being stoic or "chipper" or falsely propped up. We have entered the suffering of the orphan, the mission of Jesus. It is hard and painful. It hurts and makes us cry. Suffering is like that. Spouting off Christian clich├ęs or pretending to be strong isn’t helpful and it isn’t true. It cripples true community and confuses and isolates a watching world. "

So here's the truth:  This is hard.  Really hard.

We sent our paperwork off (hopefully the last of it) on Tuesday.  It should be sent out to Russia today.  We have no word on a court date.  We have no idea when we'll have word on a court date.

I have this be an encouragement to both Barry & I, but also to be a testimony to Sveta when she is home of the people that love her dearly and prayed for her homecoming.  I also stole this idea from my new friend Jen (who has no idea I even exist).

Will you make a sign that says "We love you Sveta" or "Can't wait to meet you" or "praying for you" or something even more creative?  Take that sign, and take a picture of you, friends, and/or family holding the sign, and send the picture to me?  I can't tell you how much this simple thing will mean to Barry & I, and Sveta down the road.  Would you do that for us?  

Email it to

Thank you for walking this journey with us.  Thank you for asking questions, for praying, and for being interested in our lives!  Thank you for supporting us as the path gets steeper and more and more rocky as we go on.  But, I was reminded today also that we are fighting a battle...against the powers of darkness.  No wonder this is hard.   We know we asked for this.  I know I asked and wanted to fight this battle - no one made me.  I'm so glad I am...but I'm going to try and be honest...that the battle is tough.  

Thank you for fighting with us.
We love you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not a "yes", not a "no"

Sometimes a definitive answer is best.

Sometimes a definitive answer is not what you get.  Instead you get this:

The judge has your documents and will tell us if he/she is going to give a court date next week.  We're pretty sure that you can't get a court date without the documents that you are missing...but your home study agency won't write the documents the way the Russian court wants them to be.  Could you talk to your home study agency about that?


Before everyone gets angry at the Home Study agency...let me explain in more detail.  Our home study agency works not only on home studies, but is also a placing agency for many countries including Russia.  We aren't using them as our placing agency because they don't work in the region where Sveta lives.  The complicated part is, if they sign our documents and don't feel legally good about it - it could jeopardize their ability to work in Russia at all. (Which would mean MANY families couldn't adopt).

So, here's how I'm praying:
1. That God would work out the legal details and the paperwork would be acceptable to all parties.
2. That the judge would be filled with compassion and grant us a court date even without the necessary paperwork.
3. That the judge would make that decision QUICK!
4. There aren't any more glitches before traveling.

I want to again thank each of you for praying, financially supporting, and caring for our family.  It is an incredible blessing knowing that I can post what's going on and you will rally around us!!

We are blessed!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plea for Prayer

There are two main things I want to ask of each of you today.  Be prepared, they're both labor intensive, and you'll really need to seek the Lord on them.

1. Pray for us. 

We got word late Friday night that our Dossier is in need of more paperwork.  After anger, and sadness, I've moved on to practical steps of what I can do about this.  We have an email and a call into our Home Study agency and we will hopefully get all 4 pieces of paper signed, notarized, apostilled, and sent soon.

But, here's what we need prayer for:  Pray for the judge in Vladimir that our in-country personnel is planning to visit this week sometime.  Pray that he/she will allow for a court date to be made without these papers.  Sometimes they are able to get a court date with a promise of the papers to come, and sometimes they are not.  It depends solely on the mood of the judge that pray that every judge in Vladimir wakes up joyfully this week so that when our friend goes to visit him/her we get a court date.

You can pray before you go to bed each night around 10:00 pm...that will be 6:00am in Russia, just about the time that the judges are waking up.

2. Consider adoption as an option for your or later. 

I spoke briefly with our placing agency this morning on the phone about our paperwork situation, and she also mentioned that their organization has just been made aware of two little girls that are in need of adoption.  They are medically healthy except they need either cleft-lip or cleft-palate surgeries...things they will NEVER receive as an orphan in Russia.  Most likely these two girls are in the orphanage systems simply because of their physical appearance.  They are both adoptable seperately...they're not related to my knowledge.

Pray about these girls, or others whom you've heard of.  If you are at all interested in adopting either or the girls, or if you know someone who might be, contact me.  I'd LOVE to give your our agencies information.

Thanks for praying and praying and praying.
As soon as we hear anything, I'll post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A glimpse...of 3-year-old-isms

Today began with reading Philippians and remembering that I must do everything without grumbling or arguing...even wait.

So, I decided to start on more tasks that need to be accomplished before Barry & I fly to Russia soon.  I started with gathering medicines and toiletries for all three of us.  I also worked on a few more things and then had lunch with one of my greatest friends.  I was encouraged by her, and challenged by her honesty.

Our lunch ended too early, but I had the privilege of taking her 3-year-old for a little drive to another great friends house.  She talked my ear off.  We talked about liking green beans, suckers, and mac and cheese.  We talked about barbies, and cows, and her being Sveta's friend.  We talked about her brother being in school, and her getting big and going to school too.  We talked about how daddy is bigger than mommy, and Barry is big too.  But Jessi is little, but not as little as she is.  We talked about gray kitties, and how I don't have any, but I do have a dog named Griffin.  We talked about the baby cows, and the new dog at her house too.  I was kind of sad when I said, "we're almost there."  And she replied, "there it is" when we pulled into the driveway.

It was 20 of my favorite minutes that I've lived in a long while.  It gave me a glimpse of life...and although I know it won't be all roses, it let me see joy in this time.  What a joy to spend time with a little girl who I hope and pray is one of Sveta's greatest friends too.

Friend, thank you for letting me borrow your little girl, since mine is so far away.  It was truly a joy and a blessing.

And thank you Barry, for being okay with a dinner of leftovers, and setting up FaceTime so that when we're on opposite sides of the world, we can still see each other and talk.  :)  Yay technology!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To Sveta

Sveta received her first piece of snail mail.  And I couldn't think of a better first piece of mail to get.  It's an invitation to a ceremony making Jill (Sveta's Aunt) a part of the Hall of Fame at the University of Louisville. 

Perhaps we could take this with us and tell the judge in Russia we need to hurry things along ... she has parties to get to!

We are currently waiting to hear from Russia.  The homestudy has been sent off.  It'll be translated and submitted to court.  Then we'll get a court date.  We're hoping for a court date in mid-October - which would mean we'd likely miss Jill's induction. 

Last Friday we sat and made lists.  One for what needs to be done before we leave. This is the longest list.  Bolting the bathroom vanity down, installing safety latches on doors (though this is mostly done), filling out more paperwork, preparing for court, chatting with our family doctor, getting meds for the trip, and, of course, purchasing plane tickets and getting visas for the trip ... just to name a few items on the list.

One list of what we need to accomplish in Russia (and it's not as simple as "grab the girl".)  We'll get all kinds of pictures for her to look back at, we'll journal ever detail we can of this trip, we'll interview more caregivers and the director, we'll buy some clothes for her, and we'll get some Russian books and toys to keep her busy on the long ride home.

I (Barry) have a list of things I will do upon my return ... when Jessi is still there working and waiting.  I hope this list gets longer and longer so I don't have the chance to sit and pull my hair out. 

And finally a list of what we will do when we are all home together.  Which includes things like sending some announcements out and visiting doctors for some tests that we can actually understand.

It feels like we are very close - though she hasn't moved any closer!  Thanks for the mail Jill!  And CONGRATS!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Forever Reign"

"You are good. You are good.  When there's nothing good in me."

These lyrics have been echoing in my mind for the last few hours. I can't seem to get them out of my head, and I'm grateful that I can't.

There's so much truth in them.  So much truth that I don't always want to hear.  I always know that God is good...but I don't want to hear about the part where there's not anything good in me. 

Even when I loose faith, forget spending time with God, or decide that this path is hopeless and taking TOO long...He is good. 

And that's why I'll sing:
"You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign"

I'm running to His arms tonight as we wait.  We are waiting for the Russian postal system...which I have very little faith in (at least at their speed).  But it's on it's way. Tonight I'm praying that God picks up that piece of mail and sends it right where it needs to be...and QUICK.  Once it's received, translated, and submitted...we'll move from waiting to running around like crazy people preparing to fly to Russia for my month long stint! 

"My heart will sing, no other name, Jesus, Jesus."  And tonight I'm singing in great joy, hope, and anticipation.  For my God is good, even when there's NOTHING good in me.