Help outfit Michael, Sarah, and John

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jill "Monk" the Inspector and You the Jury (guest post by Tyler)

"Here's what happened:"

Carrying large amounts of cash can be very uncomfortable. International adoption thrusts us into this situation. Walking around with literally tens of thousands of dollars on your person while passing people on the street who get by on so very little leads to some very sensational and scary daydreams. The really scary thing is that these daydreams are not far from what could be reality.

This being the case, Jill and I discussed what to do about our money situation. We finally concluded that we would carry part of it in a money purse under our clothes. The other part would be carefully packed away in our luggage. One day while preparing to travel to another town I discovered that our money supply had shrunk. I went over all of our expenses several times and concluded that there was no way around it: someone had stolen some money. They didn’t take all of it; just enough to be overlooked, or so they thought.

I retraced all of our travels and narrowed it down to a certain time period. I was 90% sure that a worker of the hotel where we were staying had done the deed. Our translator assured us that it was a very respectable establishment and that all of our belongings were safe there. [During our entire trip, every time a decision had to be made regarding transportation or lodging, our facilitator & translator insisted that we use something comfortable and safe. This often compounded our money difficulties because we were always staying at the more expensive places. I guess a bad experience reflects poorly on their job of making our adoption one that is safe, smooth, enjoyable, memorable, successful, etc. Perhaps for this reason she tried to attribute our lost money to some other cause.]

When we returned to this town, we again stayed at that hotel. At my request, the translator accompanied me to visit with the hotel manager. In reality, this hotel was more of a large bed and breakfast. The owner/operators were about 4-5 members of one family, as far as I could ascertain. We explained the situation with the stolen money. They insisted that it was impossible that anyone at the hotel could have done it. The went on and on about how the success of their business relies on their good reputation and that in twenty years they had never had a single episode in which anything had been taken from a customer. They topped it off by swearing upon their lives and the lives of their children that they had not done this thing. I of course realized that I was unable to prove who stole our money. In an effort to diplomatically navigate the situation, I told them that I was not accusing them of doing it; rather, I was explaining that we did have some money stolen from SOMEWHERE. As a result, we were very uncomfortable in general and requested that nobody enter our room, not even for cleaning or fresh towels. They assured us that everything was safe in their hotel; however, if we wished to be left alone, they would honor the request.

Jill and I were very disturbed by this experience. In truth, we did not know for sure who had taken our money. More than the money, we felt that we could not trust ANYONE. We were looking at everyone and thinking, “Maybe it was them.” The anonymity of the crime left us projecting guilt onto everyone, even complete strangers on the street. It was as if an entire country and all of its people had united to take advantage of the rich Americans who are actually quite poor. This state of mind was obviously the result of a fresh wound being laid on top of fatigue, traveler’s diarrhea, a tight schedule with which to complete a mountain of legal documents, an increasing concern about being stranded in Ukraine due to running out of money, and the general uneasiness associated with being in a foreign environment where you cannot communicate with anybody.

Fortunately, this universal condemnation passed within a short amount of time. Finding the church and spending time with the Saints did a lot to help restore our faith in the goodness of people everywhere.

When I was leaving Ukraine, Jill had two options: 1. stay at the hotel in question all by herself for the entire 10 day waiting period or 2. stay with Mama Bigoon, of whom Jill has written so much. Our facilitator was very concerned about Jill moving in with a complete stranger that she had just met a few days prior. It is hard to explain how the gospel gives us instant rapport and a bond of love with members of the church throughout the world. Despite the relatively poor condition of her home, which is located in what our translator considered to be an unsafe part of town, Jill opted for Mama Bigoon’s home and never felt safer during the entire trip.

Now that the 10 day waiting period is over, Jill has begun the marathon journey of: traveling 3 hours to Artemovsk to get the court decree, traveling an hour and a half to Donetsk to gather all of the legal documents which make Keith and Kristina ours, traveling back to Artemovsk to pick up Keith, travel 3 hours to Mariupol, make the first and only stop on her European concert tour, pick up Kristina, travel on the overnight train to Kiev, spend 1-2 days meeting with doctors and U.S. Embassy folks so that Keith and Kristina will be admitted into the good ole U. S. of A., their new home.

This last stretch of the journey of course cannot be completed in one day. As timing would have it, Jill is of necessity staying two more nights in Artemovsk, home to the “Nostalgia Hotel.” After staying the first night, and before leaving for what was one of the busiest days of the entire trip, Jill placed a trap. She neatly packed her luggage in a very specific order, taking pictures of everything. When she returned…..? You guessed it. Her luggage was indeed neatly packed BUT not in the same way that she had packed it. She again took pictures, with the changes visibly apparent. If Jill were writing this post, I am sure that she would include the pictures as evidence.

There was nothing missing, as Jill did not leave anything of value to be taken. Nevertheless, what nerve. After being accused of stealing money and being asked to not even enter the room, to press on in rifling through someone’s luggage. Talk about someone who can’t control themselves. When presented with the pictures, they had no answer except that they had not done it. What else can you expect them to say. Well, they should be glad that I wasn’t there when this went down. I would have had a few choice words to share, though I doubt our translator would have consented to their translation.

There it is. I have presented the facts as I know them. You, the reading audience be the judge. Guilty or not? As for me, I will defer to, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” The only judgment that I pass is that the Nostalgia Hotel is one place that will not live up to its name, at least in our minds.

4 comments:

Saquel25 said...

That really sucks. It's so hard when money is tight and then something like this happens. Our tenant "forgot" to put a few of the utilities in her name when she moved in. You can't really tell where her consumption began and ours ended so we are stuck with her bill for the last few weeks. Probably not as much money as you are out but frustrating non the less.

Jill said...

Now all we have to do is figure out how this fits into a murder mystery.

Julie said...

oh wow. Thanks for sharing. I will make sure that is one place that we DON'T stay while there!

Kathey said...

I like Jill's comment about the murder mystery. Too bad Jessica Fletcher isn't there to help catch the"bad guys!"