Open Arms

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

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....