update on Katya and Karina (and Anatonia - Tanya, aka Babushka)


I have been praying and waiting for an opportunity to go see Katya, Karina and Grandmother.  Amy has been praying this same prayer for us at home.  Ever since we left ini June we have been longing for this chance. I tried to make arrangements with our former and fantastic facilitator Tanya on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday - but something always prevented us from being able to connect - our schedules didnt match up or the weather was not cooperative.  In my efforts, I was at peace with the fact that if it were God’s will for us to see them again, then he would make the way for it to happen.    I was resolved that if we did not, it would not be for my lack of attempting - but could trust in his good plan for us, as He has not let us down yet.  
Finally on Wednesday - our last day in Kherson, we were able to connect with Tanya and the Hoffman family, who had just come into town for their adoption.  We had a nice meeting together where she explained to me that they had journeyed with us during our attempt in June and cried with us as we walked down that path.  As I talked about it a little, emotions that I thought were gone washed over me like a flood and tears spilled again as I recalled in my mind those difficult days.  It didnt last long and we were on our way to the market across the street to buy gifts for Katya and Karina’s grandmother.  
You see, the evening before, I discussed with Tanya the possibility of her taking us to her house to see and check in on the girls.  Tanya indicated that she thought she had moved and would try to get her new address from the caretaker or director the next morning and we would see.  Well, neither one knew of any new address for her, and her phone number had apparently been changed, since they could no longer reach her.  The letters we had sent back with the summer hosting chaperone were not delivered, since they could not figure out how to reach her.  We decided that we would try to go to her old address and just see if maybe she did still live there, or perhaps if a neighbor may know some information.  
So with the chance of seeing her, we did not want to go empty handed.  We purchased buckwheat, sugar, flour, noodles, honey, salami, cheese, bread, nutella, and perhaps a few other goodies Ive forgotten for grandmother.  We also purchased Katya and Karina each a christmas ornament, snickers bars, and a small bag of pink marshmallows.  It was a little risky to spend the money, but we knew that our translators family could use all of these things if we did not happen to see her.
We headed to grandmothers house around 3:30 in the afternoon.  Upon arrival, Tanya could not remember exactly which house, but we encountered a neighbor outside with whom she inquired.  Turns out grandma does still live in the same place - which we were directed to...3 houses up on the right.  We went to the gate, about 30 feet from the house and knocked to the reply of a suspicious dog.  Tanya called to grandma - is anyone home....out comes babushka!  She motions for us all to come (Anna, Gracie, myself, and our friend and translator Sergey).  Into the doorway we walk and the first to meet me in the doorway was Katya!  Her face lit up like a christmas tree and she leaped into my arms and hugged my neck tightly.  Karina was next with a similar reaction and hugged my waist very tightly.  Ahh - my girls, so good to see them again.  My heart was pounding out of my chest with both joy and nervousness about how grandma might be receiving us.  She let us in and was a good sign, but was she angry or threatened by our arrival?  
I quickly learned that she was not.  She was glad that we had come and welcomed warmly into her home where a small wood stove was burning in their little three room house.  The kitchen was off to the left from the main entry way, and the other two rooms to the right.  We came into a very neat and clean place.  The girls were in the middle of a snack, bread and jam and tea.  Of course we arrived unannounced - so we got to se them in a natural and unprepared state, which gives me great comfort.  They are well taken care of!  The girls were clean and well dressed, but obviously very happy too.  Tanya asked they straight out (and not in front of grandma as she stepped out for a moment) if they liked it here, or wished they lived back at the orphanage.  They both agreed they liked being with grandma!
Grandma told us they were doing well in school, and loved art class the most.  At this, the girls both jumped up and brought us their art notebooks, filled with color drawings.  They asked where is “mama” and we explained of course at home with the other children.  I asked them if they would like to pick out a drawing to send home to Amy from their notebooks and both of them eagerly and carefully picked out the one they wanted to share.  They were thrilled to meet our daughters and they seemed to instantly bond with them and receive them.  We learned from grandmother that the state has not yet began to pay the income supplement for having the children.  They are supposed to pay 1900 grievnah per month - but these last four months they have paid nothing.  She goes every week to inquire, and is put off again and again, but keeps trying.  Still she works hard at housing repair (she is apparently skilled in plaster work and do the walls and ceiling repair).  She has a good reputation with the neighbors and treats them kindly by helping them with repairs, especially critical ones - even if they cannot pay her.  She does receive Katya’s medicine from the state and gives it to her as she should.  She seemed very kind and happy too, telling us that if it were not for our arrival that she would not have her granddaughters again.  There was a change in the law that allowed her to retrieve the children from the school without the requirement of owning her home, just the requirement of proof of registration of renting the home.  She did not know about this change in the law until she was motivated to find out.  She does not hold us guilty or think that we had malicious intentions toward her or the girls and was glad for our arrival.  She gave us her phone number and mailing address and welcomed us to maintain contact with the girls as often as we wanted - she did not oppose this at all! I was so relieved and thrilled to hear all of these positive things, my heart was just bursting with joy and thankfulness!
We monkeyed around with them for about and hour and a half.  Katya brought out the UNO game we left from before (sadly I dont think they have the bibles - she could not find them).  Anna and Gracie played UNO with them and taught them the rules.  They were all smiles from the time we arrived and gave hugs and kisses generously and non-stop when it was time for us to leave.  They told us that they have friends at the school and that they were warmly welcomed there on the first day.  The first day in fact included a trip to the river where they played with classmates for the afternoon and they were immediately made to feel welcome and really enjoy their school.
So God has answered our prayers, for their well being and for our opportunity to see them again.  Not only this time, but to maintain contact with them.  Perhaps there is some plan for our long term involvement in their lives yet.  We asked grandma what her most pressing needs were for the children and she expressed that she needed clothing for them both for school.  She had purchased things from the second hand store and they were getting along, but would like them to have some nicer things for school to wear.  Of course without the income from the state, and with repair orders being more slow in the winter months, she had a need for money for living expenses.  Because of all that we learned and observed in the house (its cleanliness and organization, along the fact that she hadn’t been drinking before we arrived and that there was absolutely no sign of alcohol anywhere around the house) both Tanya, Sergey, and I felt that any money I might have to offer her would truly be used for their benefit and would be put to good practical use.  So we gave her some money for clothing.  We will ship clothes to her in the future for the girls, but without knowing how long that might take, I wanted to make provision for the need immediately and will just send clothing when we can.  I in fact cannot wait to send the first package!
As we left, Anna told me that she believes we will see them again for some reason.  I have imaginations of how that may play out, and prayerfully ask that God allow us to be a part of their lives in a meaningful and positive way.  I am hopeful and believe too that we will.  As we left, I was struck with amazement once again at the deep deep grace, love, and mercy our heavenly Father bestows upon his children.  I even now weep over the miraculous reunion we have had with “our” girls, but this time it is with joy and hope, rather than loss and despair.  They will always hold a uniquely special place in my heart.  I wish they were home with us, but I confidently know that God’s plan is better than my own and will produce more joy and peace than I can imagine as I follow him.  So now we pray for them, maintain a relationship with them, and wait for God to allow our paths to cross again.  













These pictures are all from their home...

9 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful and amazing thing! Praise God!

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  2. WONDERFUL!!!!!!!Cant express how happy I am that you got to see her and that they are well. God's plans are so much better than our own. Praise God!

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  3. AWESOME!!! So cute! I like the picture of everybody giving bunny ears to each other.

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  4. Amen y'all, amen! So wish I could have been there...
    Amy

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  5. So awesome to read ya all. Praise the Lord. What an incredible blessing! I tell ya Jeff you covered some serious territory in such a short amount of time. God re-routed you in such an incredible way on this trip!!! (:

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  6. Incredible. I LOVE the fact that this is not laced with heartache anymore and that you have a chance to maintain contact with these precious girls. Your are right, God has been so good in this situation to let you see beyond where you left if several months ago. The peace and hope you have been given is surely a HUGE blessing. This is probably one of my favorite posts. Just amazing.

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  7. Yes Nicole, indeed! Thanks Thea, our hearts are very much at rest now :) I read your blog about the boys getting your package! So excited for you all!!! Amy

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  8. you guys look like a fun and loving family!

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  9. I entered giveaway At the Fence - my favorite basket in the giveaway was Mans Best Friend

    owen.darlene@gmail.com

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