After our trip to Slavyansk, we boarded a train for Odessa. This was a 16 hour trip by train. We didn't forget our food in the fridge, so we snacked on juice, cheese, and bread. We have practically existed on mostly cheese and bread but the girls are good sports about it.
Once we arrived in Odessa, Masha's friend, Yana, met us at our train car. She contracted a driver to take us to a special needs orphanage. I knew that we would need a driver, but It was never mentioned that the trip would be 3 hours each way. I thought I would be paying the driver $50 or maybe $75, but the bill was really $200. This actually explains the cheese and bread.
Don't for a minute think that it was money wasted. The orphanage director was not there that day, he was actually in Odessa proper, but he directed the staff to meet with us and introduce us to children and discuss the children and their needs. He met us when we got back to Odessa just to touch base with us and make sure to meet me. I thought this was so very nice. He went out of his way just to meet me!
The orphanage has 12 children who are so young that their HIV status is still undetermined and they are not yet available for adoption. There are 3 other HIV+ children who are in Kiev right now receiving special treatments. We will be visiting them this Monday and bring them diapers, bananas, and crackers.
I was able to meet a number of other children. They have a number of different special needs. They gave me the exray of one child in order to share with his potential family when they step forward. His is an exceptionally bright little boy according to the staff. His little legs are bent under him and are not usable. They told of another little boy who had the same condition only much worse, who had been adopted and given a surgery. They said the family sent them a picture of him riding a bike! They expressed great hope that we at Project HOPEFUL might find a family for him. They held another little girl out to me who could not interact with those around her. They handled her with gentle care and attention, but were at a loss as to what could be done for her.
I have pictures of all of these precious little ones. I pray that God has a family appointed for each one and I pray that their ears and hearts are open to accept the blessings he has for them.
After such an exhausting road trip, we still needed to meet the director, pay the driver, have dinner and get back on the train to Kiev.
Yana suggested we eat at an Armenian restaurant she had eaten at once before. We were up for it. When we arrived, the owners of the restaurant came out to meet us. Yana had met them on her first visit. They took our bags into their car and had dinner with us. They proudly gave us a tour of the kitchen and showed us the stone pits that the kabobs were cooked in. When we got back to our table, they kept ordering all kinds of food. Cheese platters with brie, blue cheese and feta, 3 different kinds of chicken, mushrooms with cheese, compote (a fruit beverage) and another appitizer that was made of some type of tortilla with cheese, tomato, and herbs. The table was full. We kept eating, trying to make a dent so as not to offend, but when we were done, there was still quite a bit left. They also would not consider letting us pay for this incredible spread. It was their treat.
They mentioned during dinner that we were only 5k from the Black Sea. I said that would have been nice to see. They insisted on driving us there before we went to the train. They even escorted us to the water's edge so the girls could stand in it and say that they had been in the Black Sea. Their kindness and enthusiasm was such a wonderful and unexpected treat.
We are now back in Kiev. We got to spend the day visiting with some other adoptive families who have recently arrived. Tomorrow we go to the hospital, Tuesday I meet with another coordinator who wishes to connect with Project HOPEFUL to advocate for children in Crimea and I have one other small appointment, then we are done. We intend to meet a bunch of other adoptive families on Tuesday evening but have no other obligations after that. Our flight leaves Wednesday after 3pm. It has only just come to my attention that we have a 10 hour layover in London. I didn't realize that. I am also not really looking forward to it either. Oh well. God will provide for us, the endurance and patience to live through it.
Thank you all for your prayers and I am so blessed to be here.