Odessa; my second home
Leaving Kiev was not very fun. Our flight was at 8:00 so we got up extremely early so that we could have all our stuff together, make sure the apartment was nice and clean, make sure our bed was changed, and towels washed, and ready to walk out the door at 5:15. I got up at 3:30AM. Sorry...I realized later that I repeated some of this....I can't keep up with myself.
Our taxi driver took us to where Karen was staying, about 15 minutes away, so that we could give her back her keys to the apartment. What an awesome thing it was for her to allow us to stay there! What a blessing! Off to the airport we went. George, the taxi driver, dropped us off on the coldest morning of our lives. We took our 3 large bags, 2 carry ons and 2 back packs and made our way inside. We couldn’t find a flight to Odessa. Finally, we got in a line and found out that we were at the wrong terminal. No problem, they said. Outside is a sign for a shuttle bus. Outside we went and waited. And waited. And waited. I had to go inside because I couldn’t stand the could. I went back out to wait some more but we decided the shuttle wasn’t coming. I went in to ask again and a different lady told me that the shuttle buses do not start until 8:00AM. THAT would have been nice to know 20 minutes ago! It was seriously below zero out there. She said we can walk; it’s like 3-5 minutes. Normally, we could have but we were just so cold and we had all that luggage and really didn’t know where to walk to. There were taxis all around so we asked one to take us there. He was only too glad to since he charged us the same amount he would have charged to take us to a hotel or downtown. We were desperate and he knew it.
All was well from that point on. Some how, all our luggage was right at or below the required weight. We have no idea how that happened except that we did give away some peanut butter gifts to Artem and a few other things. We also did some readjusting with carry ons. Not only that but she asked where we were flying from and didn’t charge us for the 3rd piece of luggage. God is good!!! Our plane left very late but it didn’t cause any problems with our friends picking us up; they were watching for the times in Odessa.
Our good friend, Viktor Migo, who used to drive for us on our first mission trips with Babushka Lela and who also picked me up when I was by myself last year and brought me home to a feast his wife made for me, picked us up from the airport along with one of his sons. My long time friend, Artyr, also met us at the airport. Artyr is about 21 or 22. I met him when he was about 15 and in the orphan camp at Camp Viktoria. He was my self proclaimed “personal translator” and we were instant friends who have stayed in touched through Facebook and Skype all these years. Viktor took us to where our facilitator, Alyona, was meeting us to start right to work. Alyona used to lead our mission trips when we first started going to Ukraine. She started a family and began to be more involved with helping with adoptions so no longer worked with the mission teams but we also have remained good friends and have kept in touch. It’s a wonderful feeling to be in such good hands and to be with family while we are going through such a difficult and intimate process. I would trust no one else to get us through this. They depend on God in every step they take and also pray for miracles all along the way.
In the other update I shared the details of “Luke” coming to the office and writing his letter. I’ll share more about that experience.
We went to the building where Luke’s dorm is. Old, cold, blah. He joined us in the hall before we went inside. He seem a little stand-offish but happy and polite and smiling. I was thinking maybe he just isn’t quite sure how to act or how to feel. We went inside and he talked away to the lady inside about his trip to Kiev. He wouldn’t make eye contact with us so I thought maybe he was nervous. I started worrying that maybe he was changing his mind or maybe he was just scared. I mean, who wouldn’t be scared of making this huge change in your life. Maybe he was feeling very overwhelmed. The ladies all talked-the social worker (children’s affairs lady), Alyona, and director of the lawyer department of the school talked back and forth for a long time and then the lady at the desk sent Luke out for some reason. When he was called back in, he was teary-eyed. Oh no. I didn’t know what that meant. I was really worried now. I really thought maybe he’s just overwhelmed. Bill told me later that he thought Luke was thinking, “this is finally happening!” Seeing Luke teary eyed made me cry. I just couldn’t help myself. I always cry when my kids cry. Even if they’re in trouble. When he was writing his letter of intent; stating that he wants to be adopted by us, I tried so hard not to cry or to watch him, but I couldn’t help it.
On the way to the office, Alyona told us we may have to decide on his name today if “Luke” had to write his letter. I had been giving it a lot of thought and prayer but we had not had the opportunity to talk about it. I really wanted to discuss it with Luke a little before making decisions. Alyona said he could think about it and add the middle name later but we didn’t want to make changes and have to re-do any paperwork or signatures. We explained that William is Bill’s name and his grandfather’s name and we would love for him to have it as his middle name. We wanted him to be able to keep his first name if he wanted to. We would change it if there was a different name he wanted. He said it didn’t matter. We were trying to decide yes or no and then Alyona said the whole name together as one name and Luke smiled real big and said YES. So he now has a whole new name with William as his middle name and DeFrees as his last name. Well....it will be official in court.
When he was finished, he handed the paper to the director and sat and watched her and wouldn’t look around. I asked him in Russian, “good?” meaning, “are you ok?” (which I don’t know how to say) and he smiled real big and said yes. Then he started asking questions about me meeting his paster, Oleg, in Houston and things like that. He was feeling better.
When we all left, I called my Ukrainian “son” and told him all about the meeting and all that I just wrote, including my fears about how Luke was feeling. I was still concerned that he was feeling scared and overwhelmed. My “son” said he would call him and check on him right away. By the way....I am not saying who this man is because he could get in trouble from certain people but I can’t say why on the blog or it will be a hint to certain people. I just want to protect his relations. So, “son” calls me right back to tell me that Luke is very happy and very excited! I felt very relieved and happy for Luke that he was happy!
After going to the other office and having the director tell us that he didn’t feel comfortable doing the paperwork we were asking him to do, (which now he has done since then, praise the Lord and thank you for your prayers!! God softened his heart), Alyona had to do some work at the Notary’s office. Viktor Migo, Bill, and I went to McDonalds to get some coffee and food since no one had eaten all day. While we were there, Pastor Oleg called and said Luke was at his house and was very excited and happy! I was finally completely relieved to know for sure that he was not having second thoughts about being adopted. He was just feeling shy. And like Bill said, he must have been thinking, “this is finally happening.”
I’ll continue the story next time. We’re off to go see “Luke”!