Monday, January 30, 2012

Catch-up on the weekend

We've had a few incredible days around here!!  We spent time on Saturday together: walking around Gus, skyping with friends, and just hanging out!  I opted not to go to the sauna as I wasn't sure that I had the proper attire (bathing suit, flip flops, etc).  Barry bought a Russian hat...and I enjoyed looking at different shops.  For dinner on Saturday we went Sasha and Ksusha's home.  We enjoyed delicious pasta for dinner, had tea, and watched some English television together.  We really enjoyed talking to our new friends, and cooing at their almost 5 month old Ivan.  He's a cutie.

Sunday morning:  Barry wasn't feeling well, so I ventured out to the Crystal Market alone to pick up a few gifts that we didn't get to buy on Saturday (everything closed early).  Then we got ready for church.  It was nice just to walk downstairs and be in the sanctuary!!  We sat in the back and used Barry's ipod to read the lyrics to the songs in English.  They sang In Christ Alone (who can remember all the words to that song!!) and a handful of others that we just sang along with them in English.  They also sang a few that we recognized from hearing them practice on Thursday.  A few of those had some repetition and words we could say, so we just sang in Russian.

Then the sermon was interpreted for us...and we were grateful because it was a great sermon.  Sasha's father gave the sermon partially about Abraham having to (almost) sacrifice Isaac.  It was excellent.  There was a prayer time after that and we were brought up.  Barry spoke, Sasha interpreted, and I stood there smiling.  The room only had maybe 25 people, but still.  After church which wasn't over until about 2:30 (started at 12), we hitched a ride from Sasha to one of his favorite restaurants.  We liked.

Barry took a little nap, and I relaxed.  We had dinner at Ksusha's parents' home, along with Ksusha and Sasha who helped us communicate with them.  (Thanks to Jim and April for teaching me to bring flowers or a gift along...Olga (Ksusha's mom) seemed to LOVE the flowers we took). 

Monday:  This morning we packed up and Sasha took us to the orphanage for our last visit with Sveta!  She came down and didn't take much time to warm up to us at all.  She was running around and playing right away.  It was a great visit.  We asked Olga (the head social worker) if we could see Sveta's living right before we left, Sveta showed us her bed, her cubby, and her chair where she eats.  Both Barry and I took a few pictures, and we left smiling!  I am SO grateful we'll be able to show Sveta where she spent so much of her time.

As soon as we walked into the room a little girl (Ira) began just screaming.  She was excited and scared, and who knows what else.  She tried to grab Barry's legs, but a caregiver quickly took her into another room.  It broke my heart.  She LONGS for attention.  She LONGS to be loved and to be chosen.  Her heart literally was crying out for her Mama and Papa to come and take her home.  I found her on the database for available children. She can be adopted internationally now.  Pray for her.  Pray about how you can advocate and help give her a better life. I'll put her picture on the bottom of the blog.

Tonight/Tomorrow:  We pack up the apartment in Vladimir, give items back to the team, sleep, and are picked up at 9:30am tomorrow morning to go run around!  We'll pick Sveta up at some point during the day and stay in a hotel tomorrow (Tuesday night) in Vladimir.  Early Thursday morning we will travel to Moscow.  We'll try to keep you posted on how things are going...or at least post pictures.

Love you all.  Thanks for getting us to the day before "Gotcha Day..." which I think I might call "Family Day" instead...cause "gotcha" sounds a little scary!!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Yesterday was spent packing up the apartment in Vladimir and traveling to Gus.  We saw Sveta for about an hour yesterday afternoon. She wasn't interested in playing with us or with the toys, so it seemed.  It was a difficult visit.  But we've found that she LOVES cheerios. 

After our visit with Sveta, we came to the church and were greeted by members of the Worship team.  We had tea and cookies with them and then listened to them practice.  They sang a few songs we'd never heard, and then a bunch we had: Thy Word, a Kutless song I can't think of the name of, Light of the World, In Christ Alone, and Revelation Song.  It was incredible to worship with them!  We will attend church here on Sunday, and Sasha will interpret for us as his day preaches (it was that, or Barry was going to preach).  The people have been incredible to us.  After Worship practice we went to a grocery store with Sasha to pick up a few things.  Barry then made us pulmeni (dumplings) for dinner.  Yum.  We went to bed soon after that.

We woke up and Skyped with great friends (so so good to see familiar faces and talk to them).  Then we were off to meet Jane (our interpreter) at the Voksal (bus station).  We met her and went to see Sveta.  We visited for almost an hour and a half.  It started rough, but ended up being wonderful.  I'm so impressed by Barry.  Sveta is beginning to warm up to him, and I know it's partly due to his loving and gentle way of trying to interact with her.  He's not pushy at all, but lets her know that he's going to be around.  I think she likes that.  She's not seen interactions between spouses much either, so when Barry was getting the hair out of my eyes she kept saying "ne nada"and moving his hand.  We were able to explain that papa was helping mama because he loves her.  Then we started to poke papa, and she liked this game.  We played ball, "koo-koo" which is like "peek-a-boo", and gave Sveta rides on our shoulders today.  It was fabulous.

After the orphanage we had lunch at a fast food place that has a logo like McDonald's but it's upside-down and red and yellow.  It was fine.  We took a bus back to the church.  Now Barry is out gallivanting around the forest that is not far from here, and I'm returning emails and blogging.  For date night this week I think we will run to the store to get items for garlic bread and we'll have that with pasta...and then maybe watch a few episodes of House and play a game.

Tomorrow is a day of exploration and I'm going to the sauna (maybe) with the women's group.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday, January 25th

Today was a strange day.

I (Jessi) had a morning full of "I'm not liking Russia at the moment" moments.  I'm not even sure why.  So, I decided to just do nothing today and rest and relax.  I haven't left the flat all day. But I have done 2 loads of laundry...which has been a huge deal because the washing machine has a knob that makes NO sense at all.  And it's complicated to say the least.  But, the clothes are hanging to dry and they are cleaner than they were.

Barry, however, visited a preschool orphanage with the team, went to Globus, and delivered a few items to some friends.

Tomorrow we will pack up and head to Gus until Sunday night or Monday morning.  We're going to stay at the church there (contact through Josh Wolford...wooohooo!).  That means we'll be able to explore more of the city, and won't have to pay for transportation back and forth, nor will we ride a bus for 3 hours a day!!  So, we're not sure if we'll have great internet, but we will try to post as often as possible.  We will come back to Vladimir on Monday at the latest to pack up the flat here and prepare to pick up Sveta and head to Moscow on Tuesday.

I will leave you with some amazingly fun pictures we've taken of random things we've found and seen while here!

Windshield washer fluid that is peach scented

Lays - crab flavored

Barry's coffee...I think the waitress thought he was cute!

Warming up after our walk around Suzdal

This sticker really was on our bananas.

I just love it.

Sveta and Papa

Sveta's shadow behind was SUNNY!

A picture of the Klyazma River as we drive across the bridge from Gus into Vladimir.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

God is ALL Knowing

Oh. my. word.

God is so good.  Barry and I have been blessed beyond measure by the way God has been orchestrating Sveta's story for SOOOO many years. 

Today was our best visit yet with her.  She held her hands out to papa to pick her up (and let him do so a few times), she shared her cheerios and cheez-its with both of us, she let me hold her and talked my ear off for a while, she hugged us a few times before we left, and grabbed Papa's hand to have him lead her back to her group.  She's amazing.  And she's ours!

We also met with Sasha, saw his church, and are deciding when to go and stay in Gus at the church.  He's a great man, and so so helpful and kind.  So glad God allowed us to connect with him.  He also got the director to allow us to come everyday this week to visit Sveta.  (Oh, and it's quarantine for the flu, not chicken pox...which makes WAY more sense)

We'll pick Sveta up from the orphanage for good on Tuesday the 31st and head to Moscow for about a week or so.  We've changed our tickets to come home, got a rough plan of what our days in Moscow will be like, and have made some plans to explore a bit more.  We are going to enjoy our time here.  This morning, I was not looking forward to more time here, but now I've feeling better about it.  I am reminded that God is so so so good and I'm so not in control! He is.

More later.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Date Night through Monday Night

I've been bad at updating as much as I should...we've been busy around here!  We're thoroughly enjoying our time in Sveta's country of birth and trying to soak in as much of it as we can!!

Friday Night:  Barry and I had date night...he planned it all.  We went to a restaurant called Shesh Besh.  We had shash leek (these words I'm spelling phonetically).  Basically kabob meat.  Barry had an assortment (which was the better choice) and I had pork.  He also had soup of some sort that was yummy.  The menu was in Russian (even though I really thought it used to be in English) but we managed with a few texts to the team asking for the words in Russian for certain meats.  

We then walked to the Coffee Bean.  Barry had a mocha and I sounded out the word for the kind of cheesecake I wanted, but instead of getting the raspberry kind, I got something with carmel and nuts.  I apparently looked at the wrong sign.  We played a game and talked through a chapter in on of our adoption workbooks.  Then it was time to head home.

Saturday: We met up with the team at the Voksal to head to Suzdal.  You should google this town.  Really really neat.  It was at one point a town with over 40 churches and only about 400 families.  During the Soviet times, they made it into a very touristy area.  Some of the team and Barry and I went to a monastery, heard monks sing (incredible), and had tea and a snack.  Then the team went home.  It was about 2 degrees outside and WINDY!  Barry and I visited the Cathedral of the Nativity (one of my favorites) and took lots of pictures.  We saw the wooden church of St. Nicholas, and many many sleighs ready to take people around the town.  We would have, but we wouldn't have enjoyed it being so cold.  We did some shopping too.  We bought a few things for Sveta for when she's older.  

We stopped at another cafe to use the restroom and warm up before heading home and ran into a Russian man named Sergei.  Although we had never met him, he befriended us and invited us to his balcony in least that is what we think he was saying.  We have his address and a note that we can't read from him.  I.N.T.E.R.E.S.T.I.N.G to say the least!

Sunday:  We woke leisurely (well, I did...Barry woke at 5:30am).  And had breakfast/lunch of pancake and eggs at the girls flat (apartment) and then went to church at Svet Mira (Light of the World).  It was nice to have Yulia interpret so we could understand.  The best part was Beta (one of the girls who lives here) was able to make an announcement about a specific child that needs a family and ask for prayer for their work as a whole.  Unbelievable.  It was neat to be part of.

From there we rode around on a bus for a while to bide our time before we visited our friend Svetlana's for dinner.  Her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson ate with us.  It was a lovely time.  She made 4 salads: carrot (my favorite), greek (yum), beet (not as bad as I expected), and peppers/tomatoes (yum) all from vegetables from their garden.  We had some kind of berry drink and it was delicious (berries from the garden).  Then potatoes and chicken for dinner, and chocolate cake and tea.  Conversation ranged from gardening, to language, to lots in between.  We came home and skyped with some dear friends and my grandparents.  Then Barry zonked out.  He's still very much adjusting to jet lag, and we've been busy so it's not the easiest thing!

Monday: We hung around the house this morning doing different things, one of which was a chapter in a Bible Study that the team is going through together.  We joined them for their team meeting at 12:30 to discuss and have pizza (I ate the 4 cheese pizza that comes complete with cubes of cheese partially melted on top).  We were encouraged by our time with them. 

We went to Globus to stock up on potatoes, carrots (they are enormous here), toilet paper, chicken, etc.  Then we came back to emails, working on changing our flights to eventually come home, etc.  

Currently Barry is making stir-fry.  In a bit we are going to walk to our friend Ksusha's flat for tea and maybe a game.  We'll hopefully be back early so we can get good rest before getting up early tomorrow for a big day!

Tomorrow we will meet Sasha at the orphanage.  He is a friend of a friend who went to school in the states, but is a Russian and has a church in Gus.  He's going to come and help interpret for us while we are with Sveta and we're going to try to get to know him at the same time!  Should be a great time.  We'll be with Sveta for about an hour and a half, and then might have lunch with Sasha and his wife.  We'll travel back to Vladimir in time to hop in a taxi to go to Barskoye with the team.  Barry really connected with some of the boys in this orphanage when we were here last December.  I know he's especially looking forward to going there.

Then we're going to have dinner with our friends at Globus and have a little time for Worship together.  Thankfully Colby has a guitar, and I volunteered Barry to play.  I'm REALLY looking forward to sweet fellowship together.

Please be praying for the following:  (and, let us know how we can pray for you...we really want to)
1. Time with Sveta this week (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and Friday - hopefully)
2. For our time with Sasha and his wife, and for us to be able to share our hope for involvement in the orphanage in Gus for their church.
3. Our time with the team to be encouraging to them.  Pray for their hearts:  they've been here about 4 months or so and I think the newness is wearing off.  They are missing home, struggling with what to do next, and just overwhelmed at times. Pray that our time here will be reviving for them!
4. Pray for the wisdom with all of the details and decisions about timing and traveling that we need to make soon.  Sveta's passport should be ready on the 31st, we'll have her medical exam on the 1st, and we don't know after that.  

Thanks for praying, and really, let us know how we can lift you up!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Together at Last

After my last post (where I frightened everyone), I'm sure you were ready for some reassuring words, and unless you are on Facebook you didn't see that Barry arrived safely.  Let me recap the last few days:

Wednesday around 6:00pm (Russia time):  Barry arrived FINALLY!  It was so so so so so good to see him.  We got ahold of our driver (who ended up being very kind and gracious...and not scary at all) and headed to Vladimir.  It took a long time.  Around 10:30 or 11 we got "home."  Barry began the process of unpacking and we soon headed to bed.

Thursday:  We slept in a little...and I ran just across the alley to a store called "Magneet" to get bananas and cheese.  We were just going to eat a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sadly, when I returned, the bread I purchased last week was growing mold, and I opted to toss it and make cheesy eggs instead.  I started the process, but asked Barry to help light the stove.  (I couldn't get the nifty little fire igniter thing to work before) Graciously he offered to make the eggs, and I was GRATEFUL.  For most of you who know know I LOVE to cook.  One day before I left for Russia, I spent most of my day in the kitchen making about 4 different meals to freeze, and a double batch of muffins.  I loved it.  Here, I don't enjoy cooking.  I don't even feel like I know how!  A simple thing like pasta to make in the US isn't as easy here. Let me illustrate:
US: turn on water to boil; put in noodles; drain.  Open can, pour on hot noodles. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese already shredded from the bag in the refrigerator.
Russia: pump enough water through water filter into nalgenes to fill pot.  boil noodles.  figure out how to drain them without a strainer. Use tomato paste mixed with more filtered water to make pasta sauce. Mix. Shred cheese after making sure that your grater is completely dry.  (yesterday before I used it to make cheesy eggs...I used my blow dryer to make sure there was no water left)

Ok, enough about the joys of cooking.  After "lunch" we went to the "Voksal" to catch our bus to Gus and meet up with the interpreter that we had hired to come with us.  I met her earlier in the week with the team and she was GREAT!  To get to the bus station (voksal) you have to walk down a bizillion steps that are incredibly slippery: welcome to fall #1 of the day for Jessi.  I only hit 2 or 3 steps.

Seeing Sveta was great.  We played with balloons, bubbles, and other assorted toys.  The girl loves to be picked up an spun around.  I, sadly, will throw up all over the place if I partake in such an activity.  She let our interpreter spin her, and she even let Barry do it twice.  Once he got a great laugh from her. Oh, and I almost forgot...there is a chicken pox quarantine at the when we visit, we have to wear masks.  I'm sure we look scary!! :)

    We returned to Vladimir in time to have pasta for dinner at Globus, pick up a few groceries (insert fall #2 as I got off the bus - only broke 1 of 20 eggs though!!), grab items for the team, and join part of the team and a few Russian friends for tea.  Awesome.  It was so good to see our friend Nick, who was our interpreter last December.  He was working on a cruise ship for a while, and is now planning to leave Monday to go to Pennsylvania. We had a nice chat, road the bus home, watched a house, and went to bed.

    Friday: This morning we got up early.  Barry made french toast.  We went to the voksal where I didn't fall down the stairs and caught a bus to Gus.  We made it to the orphanage around 10, and were with Sveta for about an hour.  She was really trying to test limits today.  I think the fact that we didn't take an interpreter helped her case.  She just walked around the little room trying to get us to let her turn on the tv, and play with the phone.  She flitted from toy to toy and I'm not sure she quite knew what to do with herself.  She did speak quite a bit, and we were able to figure out a few times what she wanted.  She kept asking for water...because yesterday it was her favorite thing to play with (and she had it all over her).  I was worried the caregivers wouldn't like that she had to go to the bathroom more often, so we didn't let her have it today.

    Barry and I have decided that Sveta is used to getting whatever she wants.  She seems to be a favorite.  She asked a caregiver for candy, and a few minutes later, the woman arrived with candy.  She's the oldest, so I think they let her get away with a few things and give her treats.  She also talks their ears off!! We will be posting pictures soon.

    Sadly, we are still waiting to hear about her passport.  Hopefully we'll still hear today.  I'll try to post if we do!  It's Friday date night tonight for us, and then we are going to Suzdal (a nearby town...look it up, it's pretty cool...they have a cucumber festival in the spring) tomorrow with the team.  Should be fun.

    We are thankful for all of your prayers and support.  I've been SO encouraged by each of you.  Love you all!! And since you've all waited FOREVER to see's one:  This is Sveta Grace Morton...and her mama.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    To Moscow I go

    So at about 12:20 a car pulled up to where I was waiting for him and said something like "get in." I asked if his name was what I was told my drivers name would be...then realized of course he would say yes. So I said, "where are you takin me?" He said to the airport in Moscow. So I got in the car with 2 men. They did there best to ask me questions...why was I hear, how long was I staying, who is coming to the airport, etc. Then the friend (a political lawyer) got out and said goodbye. Then the driver said something about money and gas and then said his brother was coming. I thought his brother just was riding with...but the driver got out and the brother got in the driver's seat. Driver 1 waved and walked away. Driver 2 began driving. I texted Frenchy to see if we really trusted these people. He called driver 1 who said somehow came up so brother/ driver 2 was going to take me...but everything was fine. Then driver 2 drove to a parking lot in front of an official looking and something that looks like the police  or military something. He held up one finger and then got out of the car. I am sitting here. Praying. He came back, sat in passenger's seat and rifled through a wallet and papers in the glove box. I called Frenchy in tears. I don't know what is happening. I am supposed to call Frenchy when he gets back. He just ran in front of the car and walks out some gate. No idea what is happening. He got back, Frenchy talked to him. He got stopped and had to pay a fine. Now it is 1:08 and we are still in Vladimir.

    2:34pm - We stopped in покров (Pokrov) for driver 2 to get a drink. He signaled that with hand gestures, and I said no thanks, but asked for a bathroom. We got out of the car and he grabbed my hand to help me walk on the icy stairs. He bought a water and explained we would have to go back to the machina (car) for the toilet. We drove to the same place we always stopped on the bus. I knew exactly where the bathroom was. Driver 2 bought a snack and we are on our way again.

    5:21pm I have arrived at the airport. Barry's flight is expected to arrive in 30 minutes. I am beyond excited!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Monday is coming to a close

    As I get ready to go to bed I am thinking of so many back home who are praying and encouraging us daily. I also think about those who are doing sO in the midst of hard news, crazy schedules, and lives of their own. I am blessed. My family is blessed.

    Today was great. I enjoyed time outside with some children that the team visits, and also enjoyed a nap. I haven't done much excePt walk around Globus, read, and skype with family and friends. My skype name is Jessica.m.Morton is you want to call whenever I am online. It is so fun to see familiar faces!!

    I am getting really excited to see Barry, and a little anxious about his travels. But I am reminded that in everything I must present my requests to God. He has watched over me here and will continue to watch over and sustain our family.

    Many of you are curious as to when we will get home, and when you will get to see us. Sadly, we have no idea. We pray we can fly home before the end of January, but it mIght be super bowl weekend! :)

    Sorry this isn't very informative, it has been a slow day. And I have liked that!! I will try to post more tomorrow. Love you all and be praying for Barry tomorrow as he travels. He will leave Greensburg mid morning and be in transit for a little more than 24 hours...sO whenever you think of us, you can pray. One of us will bound to be a wake and god always hears!!

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Weekend Happenings

    Yesterday the entire team and myself went to a little cafe for lunch.  I ate blini (pancake like thing) with cheese and drank tea.  My lunch was 27 rubles (less than a dollar).  And it was YUMMY.  After that we played some games at the girl's flat and I was able to Skype with Barry.  Then we had dinner, great conversation and we watched a movie.  I talked to Barry right before I went to sleep, and I got to talk with Ray and Kathleen (my incredible in-laws).  They thought Skyping was an interesting was fun to see them and Barry all together. 

    I slept GREAT!  For one, Megan's bed is really comfortable, and I am finally starting to get adjusted to time.  I woke up to skyping with Barry again (can you tell it's my lifeline??).  Then I ran to my flat to shower and get ready for the church.  Came back just in time for pancakes and eggs.  We sat around for a while and then headed to church which started at 2pm. 

    There was a worship team from a different church visiting and leading today.  They did several songs in Russian, and one that I knew the English words too.  The worship songs last for about 45 minutes.  Then the pastor spoke about a few passages, but centered on Philippians 2:12-13.  Awesome.  I only understood because a sweet lady (the youth pastor's wife) sat in the middle of the Americans and interpreted.  Then a lady prayed very passionately for the prayer requests (that wasn't translated because the lady praying spoke SO quickly).  They took up the tithe, and then did a special offering for the House of Prayer (they are building their own building just outside the city...they rent now).  The church's name translates as "light of the world."  It is a neat place.  I enjoyed it, but can't imagine going to a church every Sunday where I cannot understand everything that is happening.  It was hard to completely focus on Jesus when I was trying to pick out words I understood.

    After church Bethany and Molly went ice skating with a ton of friends, but I wasn't feeling so hot.  Megan and I decided to just head back to the girl's flat.  We watched an episode of a tv show on her computer, had a snack and tea, and then went to Globus. She got a few groceries, and I bought milk.  We ate at the cafe there. I had salmon and french fries.  The salmon is the first meat I have eaten since I've been here.  It tasted delicious!  During dinner we had the best conversation.  All about life and ministry and what our God is up to.  Encouraging for sure.

    Now I'm back at the girl's flat waiting for the phone call to go to my place to finalize the Internet set up.  A friend of Frenchy's is going to come help.  But we're not sure when he's going to be back in town.  I pray we can get it set up tonight! Please pray with me.

    I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday!!  Keep me posted...I really do LOVE hearing from home!

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    "You are here, You are here, in Your presence I'm made whole"

    I must start by thanking each and every person for their prayers, their encouraging emails, notes, etc, and for the tears that they've cried with me.  I am blessed beyond measure!  I have been so encouraged in the last few days by the words spoken by family and friends.  The verses given have been like water to a parched land. SERIOUSLY. I know it sounds cliche, but I'm completely serious. 
    God has used you to speak into my life in this difficult season.  I appreciate your honesty and stories of when you struggled as you became parents.  I appreciate that so many have tried to imagine what it would be like to be here without their spouse.  I appreciate that you've shared your stories of how difficult life was when your husband was away for even LONGER.  I appreciate you caring so much about me, and this story of God's redemption, that you took the time out of your lives to bless me.  You are a minister of God's grace and peace and joy.  And I thank you.

    I also can't go on without thanking Barry.  He's prayed, and gone through so much to honor my request of him to come early.  He will be with me on Wednesday, and that is the light at the end of the tunnel for me.  He will be here early, and I am so so grateful.  I am so blessed by his faithfulness, his love, his determination, and his FAITH.  He is the best gift that God has given me, and I am undeserving.  He's incredible.

    And, last, but not least, the team members that are living here have been AMAZING.  They've fed me, listened to me, welcomed me more than needed, spent hours helping me attempt to set up the internet, helped me with Russian, and how to buy bananas, and so many other things.  I would have turned around and come home by now if it weren't for their friendship...and some of them just met me in December.  Pray for them, for their time here, and for their growth and work.  They are the true heros in this story.  They are with the orphans of this area everyday.  They pour out their hearts and lives to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  I could never thank them enough for what they do.

    Ok, so on to a few details:  yesterday I was able to get working on adoption stuff.  I mainly followed V around and signed papers from 9:30 until about 3 yesterday.  Oh, and handed her my passport.  We have Sveta's adoption certificate, birth certificate, passport photos (which might be the cutest thing I've ever seen with her grossly enormous pink bows on both pigtails - so big you can't see her pigtails), and have applied for the passport.  You can only pick passports up on Tuesdays, so be praying it is ready by the 24th.  That would be a HUGE blessing instead of having to wait until the 31st. 

    I also was able to play with Sveta yesterday for about 45 minutes.  She was active and talkative.  We played with stickers, balloons, and my "telephone" (aka ipod touch which she thinks is my phone).  I took a few pictures.  My favorite (which I will have to wait to post) is of her holding her magnadoodle that Nana and Pop bought her.  On it she drew a picture of her papa and she's got the cheesiest smile on her face.  She decided to draw papa without being prompted.  :)  I asked her if mama and papa should come visit soon and she said yes.

    I found out that we are able to visit her in the coming weeks with or without an interpreter.  We can't go everyday because of a chicken pox epidemic, but we will be able to go.  YAY!  I really think that will help with her transition.  She'll be able to get to know us on her turf and feel a little more comfortable before we take her away from the only place she's ever known.

    I can't wait until Barry and I can go see her together!!

    I'm going to stay pretty busy until Barry gets here with the team and following them on their tasks.  Today we're going to a cafe for lunch, and then to have game day at one of their flats.  That should be fun!!  Then I'll be staying with the girls tonight for girls night, pancake breakfast, church tomorrow afternoon, and then ice skating with a bunch of their Russian friends.  Then Monday, I'm going to take Jill's (my sister-in-law) advice and head to a coffee shop where I can practice and learn more Russian phrases and words.  I will probably also take Barry's advice and go to globus to find him the most absurd and strange thing I can find and have it waiting for him on Wednesday when he arrives.

    Again, thank you all.  Please keep the notes, and emails coming.  Even if you aren't into flowery words, tell me about what you are up to, and how I can be praying for you.  Sometimes I forget that everyone else's life is still going on in America while I'm here...and it is nice to be reminded that some of you are still going on date nights, and taking your kids to soccer practice, and working like mad on the changes happening in your ministry.

    Also, if you have skype, and are up for talking either kind of early in the morning, or late at your night...let me know.  I'd LOVE to see your faces.  It's been so so nice to talk to Barry on skype...and yesterday I lucked out when I called and got to see Julie and Rachel and say hello to them.  It's like a breath of fresh air.  Face time would also work, although I've not attempted to use it here.  Just email.  Or you can text me::  812-269-1256.  I'll text back if/when I have internet.  Just try to remember that it's 9 hours different...but really text anytime! 


    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    I am going to attempt to recap the last how many ever days...they are kind of running together:

    Monday, January 9th:  Barry and I enjoyed time together on my last day home without a daughter.  It was strange to think that the next time I walked into our home, we'd be 3.  We left for the airport around 4 and it was EMPTY.  We had Qdoba for dinner and I cried as I even thought about saying goodbye.  I hugged and kissed Barry and then walked through security.  The lady that checked my documents gave me some tissues and I told her and the 2 other employees that I'm leaving for a long time and we're adopting and I just can't stop crying.  They congratulated me on the adoption and I was through. After many more tears and a few phone calls I boarded the plane. I cried almost all the way to DC.

    In DC I called Barry and told him that I wasn't getting on the flight, that I just couldn't do this by myself.  He told me to talk to the lady at the gate about pricing and then make the decision.  It was up to me completely if I got on or not.  I spoke with the woman who said it would be lots of money to change the ticket, and I knew it wasn't smart, because I'd have to leave a few days later by myself anyway because of Barry's visa.  (It wouldn't have been ready in time).  So, I knew I had to get on that plane.  I cried and cried and told Barry I loved him a bazillion times.

    That flight was 6 and a half hours long. Thankful I was able to gain composure and tried to look at all the Lord was going to show me and teach me during this trial. I was able to sleep for about 3 hours because I shared a row of 5 with only one other woman.  At one point I was adjusting my pillows and accidentally touched her head.  We both had the idea to lay down.  :) 

    I arrived in London and had to go through security again. I had a mini-DVD player in my luggage and it was suspect.  It had to be run through the machines a few times.  I ate part of a sandwich I had packed for breakfast in London (at 6am) because I wasn't going to pay in Euros for a sandwich and have my credit card charged, etc.  I boarded the plane for Moscow as the ONLY American.  Father Frost (the Russian Santa) was standing on the jetbridge and welcomed us on the flight.  I sat down and right before take off water dripped on my head.  I was slightly freaked out...but it turned out fine.  I was in an exit row (yay more leg room) and there was an empty seat between me and the woman in my row.  I was by a window. They came around with drinks, and I thought I was getting apple juice...but it was some sort of bubbly champagne or something that was HORRIBLE! The lady in my row said her drink smelled like meatballs.  I next tried also tasted HORRIBLE.  So, I ate some more of my sandwich with nothing to drink. 

    After landing in Moscow, going through passport control, finding my bag (which I thought was lost), and herding through customs with 8 bazillion other people, I arrived to find my sweet friend Ksusha waiting for me.  She rode in the taxi all the way from Vladimir so that I wouldn't have to be alone.  Such a blessing.

    We talked and rode for a little over 3 hours.  Our taxi driver talked her ear off and I slept for maybe 30 minutes.  I arrived at the flat to find it just as Barry and I left it a few weeks ago. I said goodbye to Ksusha and immediately was crying again. I remembered that I could email on my kindle, so I sent Barry and email.  I began praying continually for God to comfort me.  I took the little stuffed bear out that we brought for Sveta and curled up in bed holding on to it tightly.  After taking a pm and waiting for almost 45 minutes I fell asleep around 3am.  (Tuesday, January 10th was spent traveling...and I'm not sure when it stopped being Monday and started being Tuesday, so it's all together)

    Wednesday, January 11th: I slept until 1pm.

    I woke up to no electricity.  Which meant I couldn't get the internet set up in my apartment on Wednesday.  I found 2 candles, lit them, and showered by candle light.  I cried some more when I was done thinking how Barry would find such adventure in this, and I just don't think it's fun at ALL.  I watched an episode of Parenthood on my DVD player I brought, and then went to the boys' flat (with the team here).  My hair was still wet, so I put it in a ponytail, layered up, and rode the bus to their place.  I was able to send a few emails and skype with Barry.  My poor husband had to see me cry again.  I was so great to talk to him and see him.  Right after we talked the girls (with the team here) came to get me.  We walked to their flat where they made stuffed peppers (delicious) for dinner, we had warm pear juice with cinammon, s'mores, and played a game.  It was so nice to be with them.  Sooo nice.  The team has been an incredible blessing.  I wouldn't be able to be here without them!!  Megan rode the bus with me home to make sure I had power.  I did.  I took a pm, watched more Parenthood and then went to sleep without tears around 11:30pm - success.

    Thursday, January 12th: 
    2am - I wake up. I lay there trying to not move so I'll just fall asleep again.  I can't sleep.  I pray: for Barry, for Sveta, for myself, for the team, for family and friends, for EVERYTHING I could think of.  Nothing, no sleep.  I pop another pm. I type an email on my ipod to Barry, which will send later.  I decide that I actually cannot do this on my own, and I really want him here.  I cry.  I cry.  I cry. 

    Finally around 4am I fall asleep again.  And sleep until my phone rings at around 11:45am.  It's Frenchy (that's not his real name, but it's what I've always called him, and he's on the team here).  He says that we can hook up the router, but he needs me to do a few things. Great!!!  Except, I have no power AGAIN.  So, I give him some information and decide to throw on clothes and head to the girls' flat.  I ate a pop tart when I woke up (because I couldn't make oatmeal since I didn't have electricity) and I haven't been to the store yet.  I got to the girls flat just in time for lunch (left over stuffed pepper casserole kind of thing - yummy).  They left to go visit an orphanage, and I decided not to go.  It is strange, but I wanted to just be able to type a blog, skype with Barry, and not have to pretend to be in a great mood.

    Cause, here's the honest truth:  this is really really hard.  I know that God has a plan.  I know that He's watching out for me.  I know that He's in control...and I know that 10 days of being without Barry won't kill me. 

    But it does make me pretty miserable.  And I know that some of you are laughing, or thinking I'm nuts for saying that.  Some of you would LOVE to be away for 10 days.  I get that...but it's not me.  I'd rather be with Barry living normal life than galavanting around Russia.  I'd rather be ANYWHERE as long as I was with him.  You may say, "oh your still newlyweds, that will change," but honestly, I hope it never does.  Is it so wrong that I want Barry with me?  Is it so wrong that I don't want to do this without him.  I get that I'm not alone.  I get that God is with me (I see Him all over).  I get that there are incredible people here (and I'm thankful)...but I still want and need Barry to walk with me through this. 

    I go through moments where I decide that I'll be fine, and I'll just suck it up...the "I can do it" attitude comes out.  And then I realize that even if I "can," maybe I don't have to.  Maybe it is ok to be honest and to say that I want him here earlier, that I need that for my own emotional health.

    We will decide soon if Barry is going to come early.  Pray for us to have wisdom, and for me to really be honest with what I feel I can do.  Pray that my pride doesn't take over and lie that I can, when in my humility it would be ok to say "I can't."  And also pray that in my emotional state I don't say "I can't" when really I am just emotional.  Pray that God would just make it really clear as to what we are to do.

    I'll post more tomorrow hopefully.  I get to go with V and apply for documents, and Sveta's passport.  I will also get to see Sveta for a little bit.  Please pray for this time as well, and that we have a better understanding of when Sveta's passport will be back to us!!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    In Vladimir

    I will apologize upfront for all typos on blogs from here on out. I am writing on my itty bitty iPod.

    I am in Vladimir after a long journey. My friends here have been so great to help me get acclimated. I slept for about 9 hours last night which was wonderful.

    But here is the thing...I miss Barry terribly. It is so hard to be so far away from him. I am really struggling...not because I am all alone but because my best friend is so far from me. He is the adventurous one. He would have laughed when the power went out today at the flat. I on the other hand cried. I took a shower by the light of 2 candles. Not fun.

    I pulled myself together and took the bus to a friend's where I will get to skype with Barry in just a few.

    Please be praying that I would stop erupting in tears and that God would grant Barry and I wisdom on logistics for the next few weeks.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

    ...don't know when I'll be back again. 

    This song has never been so true.  I leave in just a few short hours to travel back to the airport in Indianapolis, then to DC, then to London, then to Moscow, then to Vladimir.  I'll be in Vladimir a long time from now.  I haven't even calculated it because it is just a long trip!!  :)

    Here's how you can be praying as I leave:

    1. Safety for the travels and my time there.
    2. That I am able to get internet in the flat quickly so I can actually stay in contact with the rest of the world...and because I'm going to want to talk to Barry as much as possible.
    3. Pray for Barry and I as we are apart these 10 days or so.  I'm NOT looking forward to being away from him for that long.  That's really my biggest concern - how much I'll miss him and not like not being able to just pick up my cell phone to call him.
    4. Pray for Sveta's passport to come back to us more quickly than expected.
    5. And, please be praying for my visit with Sveta on Friday (Thursday night your time).

    Thanks for all the prayers.  I think Barry and I will both try to post as we are able.
    Love you all!