Monday, January 26, 2009

Goodbye to a Classmate

Wow I am behind on my blogging again! You would think that being on my own in Ukraine there would be lots of time, but surprisingly, no.

Today is Day 7 of our 10-day waiting period. Sergey had been counting the days since court and was sure that we would be going to America on Friday. I had to disappoint him by telling him, that no, after the waiting period comes yet more waiting as we do more paperwork. "Soon," I told him, "remember how many weeks it has been since Karina had court." And about Karina...

Even though it is Monday, I want to post about last Friday. As is customary, I visit Sergey's Orphanage #4 for a couple of hours each weekday. Last Friday was a special day, though, because it was the day that the Nasekos family was taking Sergey's classmate, Karina, out of the orphanage for the last time. They threw a going away party for her. As you can expect, it was a bittersweet time. Older children, I think, realize that their time is running out for a family. They put on a happy face, but inside I know that it is painful for them. You may have moved, or known someone who has, and experienced the sadness of saying goodbye to a friend. It is that, and more for the orphans, since in many cases, their friends are their family. The years accumulate, a friend leaves, and they wonder, "Why not me? What's wrong with me?"

Sometimes in the blogs you'll read something like, "Today we sprang so and so out from the orphanage." Well, I just don't think it is that simple. Someone once said that the hardest part of an adoption is the day that you watch 100 eyes watch you leave.

I won't share too much information about the Nasekos family, because that is their place, not mine. You can see their blog post. I will only say that Karina put a lot of thought into how she wanted her party to be. I know she has seen her share of them.

The kids had a nice time, and I count myself privileged to have been able to be there to share the Nasekos' joy. I was also able to be a somewhat neutral observer of the saying goodbye to a friend. There was a girl in particular who had to watch her best friend go.

While I will be thrilled to take Sergey home, I will probably be an emotional wreck when I have to say goodbye to these dear children. I have gotten kind of close to a few of them in these last two months that I've been visiting #4. I've seen them on their good days, and their bad. I see that children are the same everywhere, desiring love and security from a family. Oh! how I wish that I could be sure that they would get one someday... Almost all adopting families want small children... The chances for older kids like these of being adopted are almost 0... I know that, but they don't... And they hope...

The other day I was telling someone that Ukraine has a way of making the powerful feel powerless. No matter what status you have in America, or how many people jump at your command, it means nothing in Ukraine. I'm not saying that I'm powerful back in America, because I'm not, but I just want to fix everything, and I can't. But the Bible says that in my weakness, I am strong. Because God starts where I end. This is where I find myself. At the end of me and the beginning of Him. Let His name be praised. Not mine. I think that's the way He wants it.

Here are some pictures from Friday.

Quite by concidence, upon arrival at #4 we ran into Dr. Vincent Rosini, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of the hosting organization, Frontier Horizon. Both Sergey and Karina were hosted out by FH last summer. FH graciously approved our hosting Sergey last August in a complicated hosting situation. I was surprised how well Dr. Vinny knew Sergey and Karina, recognizing them immediately. He even knew who I was even though we've never met before. He was glad to see Sergey and Karina with families. Dr. Vinny was at #4 working out details for hosting next summer.

Sergey and Andrei helping to put away some donated clothing.

Preparing the table. The kids were very careful to ensure that everyone got the same portions.

Grandma Lela, an American missionary, came to the party. Here she is shown with Luba. Grandma Lela has been a faithful advocate for the children, ensuring that they get medical care that the administration would otherwise not provide for them. Lela has prayed for Karina to have a family ever since she was in 1st grade. She also shares the gospel with them and her Odessa church helps them after they age out of the orphanage. I thank God for her.

Orphanage #4's 6th grade class. Three of the kids were missing - in the hospital, I think.

Karina and Kristina with their primary supervisor, Nataliya. Grandma Lela said that years ago they had another supervisor who yelled at the children all of the time. Lela confronted her over it, but it didn't help. Lela says she "prayed her out" and Nataliya replaced her. The kids love her. The first day we came to Odessa to see Sergey after our SDA appt, the first picture he wanted was of him with Nataliya.

The table is ready, time to gather.

Saying a prayer before the meal. Before the prayer, Karina spoke, and each of the kids said something to Karina. Nataliya gave an emotional message. She has been with her almost daily for several years. Matthew gave a short gospel message through an interpreter, then prayed for the kids.

The Nasekos' brought gifts for all the children, Karina was handing them out. Little Eva, the orphanage director's daughter, suddenly appeared. She always seems to know where the action is!

Here's a picture of Luba that I love. She has a beautiful smile. She is more introverted and pensive than the other kids, and is kind of a loner. She reminds me of me. Maybe that's why I connect with her. The other kids are sometimes unkind to her. Today (Monday), I had to get after Sergey for something he and a couple other boys were doing. All of the earthly possessions the kids own are in their closet, like you see here, often in only a shoebox.

Playing games, loud music, and fun, even a little dancing.

Time to clean up. It ALWAYS amazes me how responsible the kids are. They work very hard and don't have to be hounded for anything.

One last visit with Karina. Karina is Sasha's best friend. She's the one in grey. I've been told that Sasha is a champion rock climber. I think she is the champion of the whole Odessa region for her age. I guess they have a climbing wall at the orphanage. Today, when I went to #4, Sasha was sitting by herself on a little chair in the dark next to a window that overlooks the front entrance. She looked very lonely. At the time I just waved to her and said hi as I went past her. Such is the male in me. But now I regret that. I'm going to try to think of a gift to take her. Maybe some flowers. Alyona is the girl on the couch. She very badly wants a family. She has won awards for singing and knows some English, since she was hosted in America last summer. One day back in December, when we had Mark along, we were sitting on the floor and Mark was reclining against me and I had my arm around him. Several times I caught Alyona looking back at us. It was very pitiful. Sheila Nasekos had told me that she was having a difficult day that day. Here Luba is dancing to the loud music.

On her way. Today is Karina's day! Last hugs and they're off. I watched them walk down the long hallway to the exit so that I could see it from this side. Next time, we will be the ones taking that long walk. I'm already praying about it...


Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing this. I know it must be so difficult for the children left behind when one of their friends leaves to start a new life with their family. I know it will be hard for you to leave the children. I am praying for them, that God would send them families!

I'm glad you posted...I was wondering where you were. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, how we miss you at home, Mark and I and reading the blog makes me very lonesome for the kids at #4 and of course our kids - Sergey and Valya. The house is very empty without you. Sayng goodbye to the kids for the last time when I was there a week ago was hard but somehow, because I knew you would still be there, it didn't seem as hard as I know it will be for you when you walk out that door. We are praying for you here at home.

We love you and miss you.

your wife and son, Mark.

David, Donna, Amber & Dasha said...

Our Dasha is struggling a bit right now with all the activity taking place in her class. So I'm sure that the others are as well that are not being adopted. Dasha has five more weeks before we see her but she'll be home soon.

Thanks for sharing all of this and the pictures.

David ...

Cindy said...

Thank you! We hosted Katya from #5 through FH this past summer and are in the process of trying to bring her home.