Open Arms

Open Arms
...caring for orphans and adoptive families...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas? Already??

Yep, Christmas is tomorrow morning. The kids are EXCITED, to say the least!
We will take many photos and post some after Christmas.

Since we arrived from Ukraine, the kids have done odd jobs for friends and earned some spending money. They had us take them to the "magazine" (store) to buy gifts. They had so much fun buying gifts for each other and others in their new family.

Tonight, we went to Christmas Eve service at church and had 10 or 12 extra friends and family over for supper. It was a nice service and evening with the family and friends. The kids are in bed now and I don't know how much sleep they will get tonight!

Well, I will get a post as soon after Christmas as possible, complete with pictures.

Until then, the Ellisor family wishes all who visit this blog a very Merry Christmas.
Remember Who we worship on this day.


Steve and Carol

Saturday, November 28, 2009

a few photos






Sunday, November 22, 2009

The "typical" day

Hi there, everyone!! I know it has been a long time since our last post but here we are. We've been home for 5 weeks and all are adjusting pretty well with a few hiccups along the way. The children are being schooled, they are playing soccer, basketball, and riding their bicycles (our thanks to Keith and Randy). Pasha is playing French Horn with the Ben Lippen High School band. Lots of new and "new" clothes (thanks to Lyudmyla, Candy, Kathy, Pat, Jenny and others).

The children have settled into the daily routine of waking, dressing, breakfast, chores and school in the morning. Moving on to lunch, PE-in-the-Park, play time, music lessons, errands and chores in the afternoon. Then it's Dad getting home from work, suppertime, more play time and getting ready for bed in the evening. Throw in bible reading, prayer time, making the beds, showers, getting dirty clothes to the laundry room and maybe some TV or a movie here and there, you have our "typical" day... and don't forget going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Pasha had his 14th birthday Nov. 12th. Another son, Matthew married his longtime sweetie, Rebekah Shrum yesterday, the 21st. We are getting ready for Thanksgiving and Grandma Polly's birthday this week and Andrei's birthday on the 6th of December. Now just to add to the excitement of the holidays, our son JD announced that he and his girlfriend Margaret (Meg) are engaged and plan to be married in late December. Our daughter, Rebekah, and her husband, Tim, are expecting their third child the end of December or the first of January. Don't know what we are going to do if life gets any busier!

I will get Carol to add some pictures soon because I don't know how. Besides, she picks out better pictures.

Please keep all of us in your prayers.
Until next time,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Settling In

We've been home a week now and are finally back on the current time zone! that took a few days longer than we anticipated.

The kids are enjoying all the new sights and sounds. Several people gave us bags of clothing to go through, but most of it was way to big so last week we made a trip to Old Navy. Each of the children have a new pair of jeans and a couple of long sleeve shirts. It's a nice start and they were thrilled to shop.

A lot of our time this week was spent visiting with family and friends and just hanging out. Over the weekend our close friends the Clinebelle's invited us out for a cookout complete with S'mores. On Sunday we went to church and introduced them to a lot of people. The attention was a little overwhelming, but they were all troopers. The Pastor's daughters made each of the kids a blanket. That was such a special surprise for the kids. They were a little shy to receive the gift, but have sure enjoyed them these last few chilly mornings.

Monday we started school lessons, with lots of English practice and math drills. We attended "PE in the park" too. The boys were particularly excited to meet some kids and have a chance to play soccer. Each of them are so positive about their schoolwork and all the English practice. They all have sweet spirits and a quick wit. We've had a lot of fun learning and laughing.

We all miss Odessa and our friends there, but for this time, we are thankful to be home. Below are some photos of the kids here at home.

Thank You all for your prayers and support. We couldn't have made it this far without you. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Praising Him,
Steve and Carol










Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

We are home. We are home with 4 more blessings around the table.
Our flights went well and we are so thankful. (just a little motion sickness for Andrei)Our final flight was slightly delayed, but we still had a crowd waiting for us at the airport. Samuel(4) and Josiah(1.5) came running toward us screaming Papa, Papa, Papa.

The kids had a great day meeting their new siblings and family members. We are exhausted and going to bed now. We will try to update with photos and comments tomorrow.

Good night!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Yesterday was like coming full circle as far as divine appointments go. You may remember one of our very first post mentioned a dear lady named Esther. We had hoped we could see her again while we were here in Kiev, but we weren't sure how to contact her now that we are staying a a different place and she is probably not working at the church on the weekend. God knew our desire and that was where we left it.

Friday, our close friend, Cameron, emailed us that a mutual friend, Chad Smith,who lives near Columbia with his family, was in Kiev for a conference this week. We emailed him and asked if he would be available to connect for lunch on Saturday. He was.

Chad and his friend Rustam came to our apartment and visited for most of the afternoon. We caught up on where we all are in life now and some of what the Lord is doing in this region. As the conversation continued we told them where we had stayed when we first came to Kiev back in August. Rustam grew up in that church and, even though he no longer attends there, is friends with Esther. We now had a contact to send a goodbye note to her. We were so excited. Rustam said he had asked the Lord that morning to use him in some way....He did.

Today is Sunday. Andrei was packed and ready to go by 10am. We don't leave until 3:30 am tomorrow morning. He wanted to be ready! We are going for a short walk around the city and then catching up with Natalia to say goodbye to her. May God bless her beyond her belief for her ministry to us. Our next post should be in Columbia. See you all there.

Carol and Steve

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thursday and Friday the abbreviated version

Thursday morning we packed for Kiev. It was an act of faith on our part, believing that we would be given the children's passports and leave Odessa. The children kept asking our plans, our itinerary. We kept trying to tell them we had no idea, only that we had plane tickets for Tuesday the 13th.

After a lunch of crab salad (the kids favorite), we all dressed in the best we had and piled into two taxis for our 2:30 meeting at the Regional Office. We arrived early and waited with a line of Ukrainian citizens who were also requesting permission for different items related to their properties. Our translator was with us, as was another translator Aloyna. Our names were called. We were third on the list.


Steve remained in the hall praying as Carol, the two translators and the children went into the meeting. The meeting was a total of 9 minutes. After waiting 30 minutes with no decision yet, we decided that Steve would go to the apartment with the children and meet up with a friend for supper, if Carol and the translator didn't return by then. We hoped we could get all of the documents and notaries that afternoon and leave no later than Friday lunchtime. Carol and Natalia waited a bit longer and saw that the officials had dismissed their meeting. Natalia went to speak with our contact. They were still deciding and maybe they could give us an answer by next week. Our hearts sunk. They were saying no decision. Natalia and I went outside. Natalia made several calls. She had an idea. All I can say is by 4 pm we were walking out of the passport office with 4 passports for the children. We called a taxi service to see if they had a van available to drive us to Kiev. The van could be at the apartment by 6pm.


Natalia and Carol raced to the apartment and told Steve and the kids to finishing packing and cancel dinner plans. We were leaving. Several friends came by the apartment, we ran around the corner and picked up hamburgers at McDondalds to have a rushed goodbye meal. Jenya also came by to say goodbye.


As we pulled out of the city, the kids waved goodbye to Odessa.



By midnight we were in Kiev in an apartment found by our facilitator. He would pick us up at 8 am to go for the kids medical exams and then to the Embassy for visas. We told the kids to "sleep fast".


The medical clinic in Kiev reminded us of maybe a clinic from the 1950 in the US. It was better than in Odessa with the dog running around though. The kids exams, blood test, x-rays and a few extra immunizations were completed by 11am. They told us to return at 2:30 to pick up the final results for the Embassy. We headed for the US Embassy and began working on all the paperwork for the Visas. By noon we left to make copies, eat lunch and pick up medical reports . The Embassy said to return at 2pm.


At 2pm Carol took all 4 kids to the Embassy, while Nadya (our translator in Kiev) went with Steve to the medical clinic. We thought all was well until Carol realized there were additional forms to fill out. She frantically finished those forms while she waited for Steve to return. We knew from the woman helping us that we had to finish the paperwork today, because the Embassy would be closed Monday for a holiday. If we didn't get the visas today we would not make our Tuesday morning flight of 6:45am.

The lady behind the glass called Carol's name. "There is a problem," she said. Nadya had called. Pasha had tested positive for TB as a small child and even though his most recent test last month was negitive the head doctor would not sign off on his medical release until he had a chest x-ray. They were told clinic only does x-rays on Monday. (never mind they had done one of Lyonya earlier in the day) Nayda talked with several people and finally convinced them to do the x-ray today.

Now 3:30, Steve and Nadya took a taxi to the Embassy. Steve got out and stayed to do his portion of the paperwork while Nadya took Pasha back to the clinic for the x-ray and hopefully a clean report. We began to pray.

Steve was interviewed for his portion of the process as the clock ticked. We asked what was closing time. They said 5:30, but they quit process at 5:00 to allow time to print things out. However, the gentleman handling our case was leaving early that day at 4:30. He arranged for another agent to handle our case. We prayed as the clock ticked. Nadya called. Pasha had a clean bill of health, but the were stuck in a traffic jam.

Pasha came running into the Embassy at 4:56 pm. We walked out of the Embassy with visas at 5:25 pm. That was a day! The Lord is never late.

So thankful we obeyed and left Odessa Thursday night. If we had waited until Friday to go to Kiev, we would have never made it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Kiev

Not sure where to begin. How do you share so many miracles? It will take us a few days to put even some of it down but we wanted to let you all know that we are coming home. All 6 of us. We are scheduled to fly out of Kiev at 6:45 am Monday morning and arrive in Columbia, SC at 8:45 pm Monday night.

Through many miracles, we received the visas at close of business today. We hope to have details posted tomorrow.

Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and encouraging emails.

Praising Him,
Steve and Carol

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A prayer from Lysa TerKeurst of Encouragement for Today is exactly the prayer we would pray today. Thank you, God, for sending it.

Dear Lord, forgive me for always praying, God bless me. Give me the courage to sometimes pray, God inconvenience me... so that I might constantly be reminded to draw near to You. Interrupt me, Lord. Shake things up in me, Lord. Reveal what's in me that's not of You, Lord. Oh Lord, more than anything, I want more of You.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

God uses all things to draw us closer to Him. It is always good...even if it doesn't feel good. He will work His good pleasure in His good timing. We will wait on Him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Today we thought would be pick up a document, have a power of attorney drawn up, a simple day. The enemy threw us for a loop. Without going into too much technical detail, the property has two "arrests" attached to it. Basically that means it was seized by the government. We were successful in having one of the "arrests" removed today, but the other is still standing. It's a little difficult to explain simply what this means, but the bottom line is until this matter is handled or the Regional Office agrees to allow our power of attorney to handle it in our stead, they will not release the children's passports. Which means we cannot get the children out of the country until the Region Office signs off on this.

Tomorrow we have a meeting at 2:30 pm out time (7:30am EST) with the board of officials at that office. We plan to attend with all 4 of the children. So all of us (including our translator) will be present. The decision to allow the children to leave the country is in their hands. Please pray with us that God will show Himself mighty and they will sign the release we need to pick up the passports. There is nothing else we can humanly is all Him.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.


Rushing wind, blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within;
Come and breathe your breath upon me:
I've been born again.

Holy Spirit, I surrender; take me where you want to go.
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.

Jesus, you’re the one who sets my spirit free;
Use me, Lord; glorify your Holy Name through me.

Separate me from this world, Lord;
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.

Ev'ry day you're drawing closer;
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done, Lord,
You know it's been worth the wait.

Jesus, you’re the one who set my spirit free;
Use me, Lord; glorify your Holy Name through me.

Rushing wind, blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within;
Come and breathe your breath upon me,
For I've been born again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday's Appointment

Things went great today. Better than expected. We were out and going from morning until evening, but all that was necessary was accomplished today. We ended up with one additional stop at a office that we were told would help our situation on Thursday, so of course we went there after lunch. Then we hand delivered all the documents from the morning to the office where the meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday afternoon. We are so thankful for everyone's prayers and the Lord's mighty favor.

Please hang in there with us and continue to pray for Thursday. That is the big meeting where we should receive the final sign off on our documents. They do have the power to tell us to wait. We have complied with all they have requested and then some, so things should go well, but we cannot assume or take these things for granted. God holds in His hands the heart of kings. He alone can turn their hearts in favor toward us. Please continue to pray. We will try to keep everyone updated as quickly as possible.

The weekend was rather quiet and slow. We were all pretty restless and ready for the next thing. We felt stuck. Some friend invited us over for pizza, games, and cookies Saturday night. We were all so happy to have an invitation. It was late returning home so bedtime was a little rough but it was so worth the company!

Sunday the kids were excited to go back to church, though our friends there were sad for us, that we hadn't yet made it to Kiev. We've been saying goodbye for a while! The worship was so encouraging again this week. The message was in English translated into Russian! If I remember correctly the fellow preaching this week is from Poland and speaks Polish and English. Below are some snapshots of some of friends there.

Ania, our outstanding Sunday
morning translator

Monday, the kids were invited to a friends house to make candy houses. It was kind of hard to explain that the idea was to make them look like a traditional house, but then all they really know are big apartment buildings or ancient structures. So instead of a tradition house imaginations ran wild as you can see in the photos. We should have taken a picture of them in plastic bags being carried home on the city bus! (Note: Andrei has already eaten all his candy off of his house)

Pasha the detail man Lyonya made a Palmetto Tree

Galia used her new initials Andrei so proud
F.E. Faith Ellisor

The process..... milk in a bag...

For tonight we are really tired and heading to bed. A lot of you emailed. Thank you. We read every one. If we didn't answer, so sorry, we will try to finish in the morning. Everything in the apartment is quiet now except for the typing and the street sounds from outside our window. Good night,
Steve and Carol

PS. We haven't mentioned the children still waiting much lately. Please remember some of them tonight.

Val and little brother Vladik Edic

Val and Kostya

Friday, October 2, 2009

How Great is our God - Days 52 and 53

Thursday was our lowest day yet.
We had already rescheduled our flights from October 1 to October 9 and thought Carol just needed to sign a power of attorney for a friend here to finish our property issues and then we would be free to return with the children next week. When Carol and Natalia arrived at the Notary office to sign the documents Natalia began writing a list of items, as Russian words spun around the room. It was obvious things were not proceeding as planned but Carol had no idea how bad it sounded. They stepped out into the hall to wait for a document to be printed and Carol saw tears begin to fall from Natalia's eyes. After a few moments Natalia shared the details. The Notary explained that given the errors from the past on the children's deeds we would have a lot of clean up to accomplish and it could take months or years, and Carol and Lyonya (because he is over 14) would have to appear in court personally to begin the process. All she was saying began to sink in. Carol sent a text message to Steve. He was at the apartment with the children. One of our Ukrainian friends stopped by and spent about an hour praying with him. What a blessing. Meanwhile, Carol and Natalia called a taxi and took off in a flurry to begin gathering even more documents we would need. We also called several governmental offices and requested appointments for the following day. Our situation is not the normal. Of all the issues we could have it appears we had them all in one deed. The law here is written to protect the children but no one ever considered an exception for adoption issues. Seems we are the guinea pig for this one. They returned home at 7pm exhausted and discouraged. Steve and the children were very disheartened also. We sat down to supper and explained that there were problems and we needed a miracle. We prayed for the Lord to intervene on our behalf. We knew we didn't have money to stay here much longer.

After the children went to bed, we sent out an email requesting prayer. The emails and phone calls last night were so encouraging. Thank you seems so small. Steve spent the morning fasting and praying while the Carol got breakfast for the children. Natalia, Carol and Lyonya left at 8:30 for the first of many stops today.

After meeting with many city officials, they have agreed to meet with us on Tuesday to grant us the needed documents without a court hearing! Another committee says that they will sign off on our papers on Thursday. Once they sign off, the passport office will release the children's passports. All this today without anyone requesting any extra "expediting" fees! God's favor was so obvious. So the delay will only be an additional 3 days plus the original 8 day delay we are still here, but so thankful for the favor granted. Isn't God good!!!!

We also spoke with our facilitator in Kiev and he and the US Embassy are working with us that we will not have to be in Kiev but a day for processing. If we can pick up the passports in the morning, Friday the 9th, in Odessa, we will travel to Kiev, and then Monday have medical exams and receive visas for the children. If it wasn't a weekend we could come sooner.

Thanks again to everyone. Your prayers were answered and we will be home soon.

Learning to operate in His timing,

Steve and Carol


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Time for Everything

It was decided yesterday that if we're gonna be here a while longer we might as well see all we can of the city. Since there were no documents to sign yesterday we packed a picnic and boarded a bus for the 411th Battery Memorial Park. The older kids had actually spent a lot of time at this park as it is near the camp were they stayed each summer. They were happy to get outside though and glad to be able to take photographs. Steve really enjoyed all the history too.

In the afternoon we took the bus back to the city (about an hour) and rested before going to dinner at the apartment of some dear friends. After a fabulous dinner there was a spirited game of Uno. We finally pulled the kids away and headed home for the night.

Thanks so much to everyone for their emails of encouragement. They were so timely.

Today we had two other adoptive families over to visit this morning. Tanya, one of the mothers, had bought Ice Age II in Russian. That was fun for everyone. Carol has more documents to sign this afternoon. So we're off for a quick walk around the center before an afternoon of games. Some times it seems we're just killing time until we return and get back to life, but we know in our hearts that...

Ecc. 1 There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under heaven.... 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

So we choose to concentrate on His truth that our time here is in his hands. He will accomplish His plans. We just need to be available and have a good attitude.

Hope you enjoy the photos from the park. The boys had a blast!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

While I'm Waiting

artist: John Waller
Album: The Blessing
Year: 2007

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Invitation to the Thirsty - Isaiah 55


Okay for the news we have all been waiting for....yes, we will be here a little longer. We are hoping to fly out on October 9. It could be sooner if everything goes well, but we are changing our tickets from Thursday the 1st to Friday the 9th. We hope to be able to clear up all the remaining issues by then. The deeds always are an unknown in these adoptions, and with 6 siblings involved this one has been a doozy. In the end it appears that the steps we are taking will be for the benefit of all six of the children so the extra time and expense will be a way we can help the two older boys in a very tangible way. That has been our desire all along.

We are all eager and ready to come home though, so it was disappointing today to realize that it would take this extra week. Please pray:
1) for the additional finances involved in this process
2) for the kids to be patient with sofa beds, and
3) for patience on days when were cooped up in the apartment.
The children are use to being very active so it's an adjustment.
4) For all the details at home that need to be taken care of.

Last weekend was a little more laid back. No offices to visit or documents to sign. Natalia still had documents she was gathering but she didn't need us. The kids were happy that we could just be together.

On Saturday morning the kids discovered Carol's Tae Bo video and had a lot of fun with that. In the afternoon we took a tram ride down the coast of the Black Sea for about 3 or 4 miles just to see the area and let the kids have a good look before we depart. We took the street car back to the center and spent another quiet evening to be ready for church Sunday morning.

We had to chuckle when we heard funny noises in the bathroom and Andrei was out of bed. Carol went to explore what he was into and found him ironing his shirt for church the next day. All of the kids clean all the time. It has been so ingrained in them. As soon as you get up from the table, dishes are washed, tables washed, floors we are not kidding. So a portion of time each day is spent just cleaning. Another day we bought a stainless steel scrub bud to clean some of the pots in the apartment. Galia used it one night and said, "Wow, it's magic." She'd been using a knife to scrape the pots clean.

Sunday we awoke needing encouragement. We we drained. The Lord gave us the following:
Isaiah 55
Invitation to the Thirsty
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

We attended the same church as last week. They said we are regulars now. They were happy to have extra kids in the children's group though! The pastor, Sasha, shared how our goal is not to ask God to come into our desires and bless them but to learn of His desires and bless Him through our obedience to accomplish His desires. Just what we have been hearing for over a year now. It's not about's all about Him. It was good to be reminded again why we are here.

One of the men at church is named Kosta. He had a friend visiting from Italy. Actually the friend is an US soldier. Imagine our surprise when we were introduced to him and we realized that he had lived in South Carolina. He name is Kevin. Of course our next question was, where in South Carolina. He said Columbia. Again we asked where. He said Denny Terrace. Imagine our surprise to realize that Kevin had lived on our very road as a child while his father attend Columbia Biblical Seminary or (CIU). Talk about a small world. It was so good to hear his very southern accent. Didn't get a photo...sorry! Now that we're delayed we may get his photo yet.

The weather is supposed to get colder this week. So we made another trip to the Second Hand store. Steve enjoys visiting with two of the men there that like to practice their English skills. When the kids heard one of the men say that one table had clothes for 5 grivna (about 75 cents) they had a great time digging through the stack. In the end they still gave us a bigger discount. Lyonya asked if Steve was good friends with that man. It's hard to explain the Lord's favor with our limited vocabulary.

The Lord continues to be with us each step of the way. Please now pray that the final issues can be resolved and we can make it home very soon. We have a lot to get back to there. We miss you all.
Steve and Carol,
Lyonya, Pasha, Galia and Andrei

....and we're still here.

Sorry for waiting so long in updating the post. Instead of slowing down we have been going faster. Now I think we will be waiting. We hope we have all the requested documents to all the correct offices. Passports should be in Monday or Tuesday, but we cannot pick them up until the deed issues are resolved (please pray). As soon as that happens we will head to Kiev. Our time in Kiev should be 1-3 days. We will need medicals on all 4 children there. For one child a two hours appointment, but remember we have to multiply everything by 4. So we are saying we will leave as soon as we can.

Thursday and Friday were very busy. We ran from office to office all over the city on Thursday and then had Grandma, Jenya and Marianna over to the apartment for supper. Supper for 10 and a very full table. Somethings are just like home!


It was a difficult night for everyone. Goodbyes are just that way. Grandma was remarkable though and hugged us and thanked us for doing what she cannot do and told her four youngest grandchildren goodbye. We had a taxi pick her up and take her home. She fell last week boarding the bus and scrapped her leg up pretty badly. She's doing okay but has had a hard life. Pray for her as she struggles to meet basic physical and financial needs.


Friday was another day running around the city. Natalia and Carol took Andrei and headed off to more appointments. Steve took the rest of the crew with a friend and found a Christian bookstore. The kids picked out a few books each in Russian so they would have something to read until they learn English. Galia has already finished Narnia though! The rest of the afternoon was spent having passport photos for the kids and such. It was nice though that we finally had a quiet evening and were able to have dinner and rest at the apartment. The kids were in bed by 9:00pm and we weren't far behind them!
More soon....