Post I wrote yesterday:
Today was a marvelous day. We woke up early and got ready and went down to meet with other Latter-Day Saints here in the Mariupol branch. We all caught a bus to Donets’k for a District Conference. It was so enjoyable! I got to know a sister missionary from Utah and it was SO nice to speak English for the 2 hour ride! Plus, to be with such happy people – what a joy that was! The Ukrainian people are nice – but the Ukrainian LDS people are just very happy and wonderful to be around! The gospel of Jesus Christ just shines in their faces. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hasn’t been in Ukraine very long and everyone we met today was a convert to the church. You can feel of their testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ; their excitement is tangible. It was a breath of fresh air to be with these sweet saints. The broadcast was wonderful and our beloved prophet, President Monson spoke to us – his talk was directed towards the Ukrainian people and the other eastern European countries. It was so nice to feel the Holy Spirit as these saints sang the hymns in Russian. Oh, how I’ve missed going to church! It had been 3 weeks since we’d been to church (General Conference, then flying to Ukraine, then last week we were in an area where the church isn’t located in yet) so today was really a treat.
I met a lovely young lady, Yl’ana, who is 16 years old. I was impressed with her dedication for getting up and being ready to board the bus at 7:30am. Her mother passed away a few years ago and her father abandoned her & her brother. She now lives with her grandparents and is very strong in her testimony of Christ. I have been hoping to meet someone while here in Ukraine that I could bring back as a foreign exchange student to give them the experience of coming to America and when I met her – I knew that she was the one to bring back. The only thing is – I’m not sure how to do a foreign exchange. Any ideas? I don’t know anything about it – so I could use any/all advice on the matter. Thanks!
After the District Conference we came back to Mariupol. It’s amazing how we’ve been in Mariupol for 6 days and haven’t had much of a fun schedule – now we’ve been invited to attend FHE (family home evening – an evening with family/friends learning the gospel and spending time together) tomorrow night, going out to see Mariupol with the sister missionaries, and then help teach English on Wednesday. I’ve been asked to sing at both the FHE and at the English lessons which should be fun. I have so many things to look forward to now – it’s wonderful!!! J
We went to visit Kristina today. Our visit with her yesterday was the best visit up-to-date. And today was okay. It’s difficult to see progress in not pulling hair/slapping when she returns to this behavior after each of our visits. But we are confident that upon returning home things will improve in this area. The caretakers call Kristina “little bird” because she makes this high pitched sound “OH!” whenever anything happens. It’s quite cute to hear her do it. Whenever we visit Kristina, we go into a music room with a piano. I play songs and we sing them. Kristina recognizes us as “Mama” & “Papa” & herself as “Kristina”. I love it when we first go see her – she runs to us and gives us a BIG hug. It’s precious – it’s probably my favorite time of the visit. By the end of our time together, she’s wound up and running all over the place. I’ll take my snuggles whenever I can get them! We discovered today that she knows how to blow kisses! So we blew about 20 kisses when we said goodbye at the end of our afternoon visit. Her caretaker on Sundays is different from during the week. She was very kind and could speak some English. We explained to her that Kristina will hit and pull hair. She responded that she doesn't do it out of anger. I had not thought of that before - she's not angry when she hits or pulls hair. I wonder what that means or doesn't mean. Your thoughts? Plus, I've read from your comments that you do not condone slapping her hand (I've already stated that I don't like doing it, either) but I have not seen any recommendations as to what else we can try. We've tried time-outs, we always look her in the eye when we tell her "no" and we praise her good behavior. I am open to other ideas of discipline for her.
We had a fun taxi driver today. We’ve had him just one time before and really enjoyed him. This guy is just a NICE man. You know what I mean – he has a big smile on his face and you get the feeling that he’s a good, decent person who enjoys life. We gave him a Russian Book of Mormon when we got back to the hotel. I hope he will read it and feel the Holy Spirit when he does. I was hoping that during this time in Ukraine that I would feel closer to God and I do. Tyler & I have been reading one chapter every night of a book entitled: “Prayers that bring miracles”. As you may know, there are many miracles that happen in adoption and we’ve had our share already! It’s a miracle that we were able to find our sweet Kristina and to accomplish all that we’ve accomplished in expediting our adoption thus far.
Our court date is set for this coming Friday, Oct 31st. (yes, Halloween) We had originally thought to pray and fast for the 10 days to be waived so that Tyler could help me bring the kids home together. However, after praying about this, we both feel that these 10 days will not be waived, so we are moving forward with our time-table where I will be here for these 10 days and my wonderful in-laws and sister-in-law will fly out to Kiev and help me bring these 2 souvenirs (wonderful children) home.
Tyler suggested that I should sing for the judge at the court this Friday. My translator thinks that the judge would really enjoy it, so I think I will sing for him. I am ready to share the talent that I have been blessed with – in fact, one of the caretakers at Kristina’s orphanage was commenting to me how much she enjoyed hearing me sing and I replied that I can sing for her any and every day, after all, my voice is free! I know that I was given this talent to share with others. Before we left for Ukraine, I was given a blessing which said that I would have opportunities to share my talents with the Ukrainian people and it’s amazing how that has come to pass. I am grateful to God for blessing me with a talent that I enjoy and for paving the way for me to use this talent to bless the lives of other people. What a marvelous Father in Heaven! He blesses us, which blesses the lives of others. I am so blessed in my life.
Here is a video of Kristina from our 3rd visit with her in the orphanage:
Post from today:
Our visit with Kristina was fabulous today. She only pulled our hair once and slapped once. And twice she was about to hit me, but hesitated and I said "No" and she repeated "no". I could see the wheels turning in her head as she thought about it beforehand & realized that hitting wasn't good. HUGE PROGRESS!!!
We met with the Sister Missionaries today and went to a little "cake shop" where they had all sorts of pastries - I have to tell you, the pastries here are amazing! They have one that is like pie crust layers with real whipped cream in between = YUM! No doughnuts, though, but there is a lovely "coconut bun" that we eat for breakfast - a bagel-like roll with a coconut cream custard in the middle = YUMMY! The sister missionaries then took us to eat "SHARMA" which is a wrap with chicken, cabbage, cheese, and some kind of plain yogurt - very tasty! Then we went and saw the Black Sea. Currently I'm trying to pull up some pictures, but with no luck. I'll keep trying! Tonight we're going to FHE at an active family's house in the branch here. It should be fun. Stay tuned!