The girls slept from about 2:30 am until about 8 am on Thursday morning (3-10). The staff in Pavlodar told us our appointment for the SOS clinic was @ 10:30 am and that we'd be picked up around 10 am. We got up and around and headed downstairs to eat some breakfast. Penny (our friends we are staying with) greeted us with HUGS and she had porridge already made for the girls. :)
I don't feel like I can write more without sharing more about them and how we met.
Get ready.. this is another one of those AMAZING God stories! :) I indicated a few posts ago about meeting Penny when we were delayed due to snow @ Christmas time. We were in the Almaty airport attempting to leave yet again after a 14 hour cancellation/delay of our flight going to Frankfurt. Phil brought a bright orange OSU hat that he wore while traveling, but quickly put away upon our first arrival in Pavlodar and realizing this made us stand out even more. LOL! He had not touched this hat for MONTHS.. but, pulled it out of the suitcase in the Almaty airport minutes before. We are about to check in through the international flights area... and we hear a very sweet excited voice say.. "Are you from America? Is that an OSU cap?" to which we both BLINK (keep in mind we've been in Kazakhstan for 2 months at this point! Phil and I gulp and think... surely we are imagaing that someone is speaking to us in English... much less realizes and recognizes that this is an OSU hat... seriously OSU - Stillwater, OK! NO WAY! We stammer and stutter and get out a Yes... it is... do you speak English? DUH!? hee hee!! We start talking and quickly discover that Penny is from Altus, OK.. We had been talking about 5 minutes when they announce that we can check in for our flight. Penny was on the same flight for Frankfurt... she was coming home to the US for Christmas. Richard was catching a flight later in the week.. so we met and said Bye to him in a matter of minutes. As you can imagine we talked with Penny for hours while waiting on our flights... and then in Frankfurt (during that MASSIVE snow storm) we were all delayed again together. Richard works here in Almaty and they live here. We showed Penny pictures of the twins and told her all about the adoption and we immediatly became wondeful friends. It wasn't long until we knew they were Christians too and she was saying that when we come back through Almaty we will just stay with them! We were blown away! :)
Penny and Richard.. you will never know how much you've shown us Jesus! We are truly blown away by your kindness and giving hearts to virtually strangers.
The best way to describe our stay here with them is like this: When I had my biological daughters, my mom came and stayed with me for the first week... she took care of all of us! She cleaned, cooked and did our laundry. She made sure that I could rest and spend all the time and energy I wanted with my new babies. Penny is that person now! She has cooked meals for us.. shopped at the store, found things the girls will like. She has made sure Phil and I are ok. She has literally waited on us hand and foot! I am about to bawl writing this.. but, it's so true! God has truly and completly taken care of us and my little family once again. WOW! God, I just continue to be so touched by YOU and how you keep showing us your love, compassion and grace! INCREDIBLE!
Ok.. back to the morning of the 10th... Penny quickly starts asking about going to the SOS clinic and we tell her it's just who the staff uses. She has some friends (christians) who run a clinic here in Almaty called the IMC (International Medical Center). She asks is we'd be willing to take the girls to them if they can do the embassey exit visa exams. We say sure and she starts checking. We quickly find out that only them (IMC) and the SOS clinic can preform these exams. Penny contacts our staff, cancels our appointment as SOS and we now have an appointment with their friends @ 2:30 pm.
We have some lunch... the girls take a nap and we head off to the IMC with Penny and their driver. Their driver is such a KIND and sweet man. He speaks English and Russian and the twins instantly love him. He's so so so kind and great with them. Another amazing blessing!
We arrive at the IMC and meet the incredible staff... wow... we are SO blown away! They radiate JESUS!!!! They want to hear all about our story.. which we share!! There are tears and praises as we share how God has provided and miracously shown up! They exam the girls and are SO sweet with them. They speak Russian and English.. so the girls love that and it's just a special time for all of us. Again.. .so incredible! They asked if they could pray with us and over us before we left... YES you read that correctly! WOW!
I of course asked for a picture:
|Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Shinkarenko (who completed medical residency in Tulsa, OK - YES! Incredible) and Dr. Vitaliy Krylov.|
|This is their office manger, Julia playing with the girls. Julia was so kind and precious. We felt Christ radiate from them!|
Oh.. and one more thing.. our appointment at the IMC clinic was paid for! WOW! We are so humbled by all this.. I can't even tell you how we just continue to be blown away. I know that we know that God said he would provide and take care if and when we trust and believe... God, WE ARE SO THANKFUL... and LOVE YOU.. we give YOU all the Glory!
We also found out that we needed passports size pictures of the girls as well, and had planned to take those after the shots, but decided it would be best to just come back to Penny and Richard's and take the pictures the next morning first thing!
A real update on the girls. Overall, they are doing GREAT.... honestly, they are. I will be honest here ( as you all know that I am) about some things, but some things I will not share. I am sorry.. but, I want my girls to read this one day and not say.. Mama, why did you tell the world that? :)
Just know that there are LOTS of sad behaviors and things they do that are a direct result of institualized life.. it's sad and heartbreaking and flat out WRONG!
These babies have lived in that orphange from the time they were TINY babies @ age 3 months. They do not know any life outside of there.
They will be 4 years old in May and they weigh (@ the IMC clinic) 26 and 27 lbs. They are tiny.
They eat every single bite of anything put in front of them... they eat fast and cram their mouths FULL of food. They have ate what they could get to survive. They are already learning so quickly. We've shown them how to chew slower, take smaller bites and go slower.... they are learning that they can have food and water already. :) We have lots of healthy things (fruits and veggies) that we are giving them every few hours. It's SO hard to know when to make them stop... but, I feel that we are doing fairly good with it all. We are being VERY aware of what they are eating... NO sugar and trying so hard to help them to transition easier. PLEASE keep praying that Phil and I will continue to have wisdom and make decisions that are best for them.
The babyhouse claimed they were potty trained, but we came armed with pull-ups and immediatly put pull-ups on them.. knowing they would regress in this area most likely... if they were really trained at all. Going to the bathroom and showing Papa and Mama that the pull-up is dry is their FAVORITE game right now! :) We are doing good and working hard!! Yes, there are some accidents, but we are getting there! :) Plus, they are drinking LOTS of water! :)
I am so excited about the progress we are already making with bonding! I have read all the books and trying to just follow my heart and gut with what to do. They are truly loving being with us. (most of the time!) ha ha!!! and vise versa.. ;) They become more attached every day and it's just so incredible to see the changes in them coming back.
I have so many things I could share.. but, think I better not... just know that we are seeing first hand that an orphange (regardless of how nice or awesome it appears) is NOT a life for ANY child. We are seeing it first hand... it's so so so sad. I can't even tell you the magnitude of the sadness that we feel seeing some of these things. It just makes me KNOW that we all have to do more. There are SO SO SO many babies who are still living that life... the are not Grace and Faith, but Violetta and Stella who are laying in a bed ALONE rocking themselves to sleep night after night..
What can we do? What can you do? PLEASE pray for those babies all over the world tonight who have NO ONE! They need US!
(sorry about that... I just have an even deeper passion now!)
ok.. so back to our days here. We came back home.. Penny made a WONDERFUL dinner and we all had a GREAT evening!
The girls had some troubles going to sleep.. but, finally got there! Mama is not sleeping well. I feel like I did when I had newborn babies. You know how you never allow yourself to go into a deep sleep.. for fear they will need you and you will not know it? lol!? Well... that's me.. but, this time it's times 2 and they really need me to be there instantly if they wake up scared. Guess what.. by night 3 when they wake up they say, "mama, Papa? " :) YEAH!!! They are already calling out to us.. or making sure we are STILL here!!
Friday, March 12
We are up about 7:30... take another bath (they LOVE water) and get ready for the day! We then head downstairs after a lotion massage from Mama and have some breakfast! :)
We head out to pictures with Penny and the driver @ about 9 am.
The girls did great.. and LOVED sitting up on the blocks for the actual pictures. They smiled and Penny and I thought it would be GREAT to get one of them together... so we asked the man and he of course said SURE! :)
Here it is:
|Aren't they precious? :) Faith on Left. Grace on right!|
Penny had an appointment so the driver dropped her off and brought Phil and the girls back home. I went with the driver to take the pictures to the IMC clinic and meet Oleg - our Almaty coordinator. Oleg came to the IMC and met me there and he was then headed straight to the Embassy to deliver our paperwork. Our visa exit interview is on Monday @ 2:30 pm!
The Dr's were all so kind when I took the pics back to the clinic and I was able to share so much of our story with them. They were so sweet and supportive and I just can't tell you how blessed we feel to have met them. We exchanged info and they want to follow the girls for years! :)
The girls then napped and had more fruit and healthy snacks! :) We then decided to venture to Lori's house (Penny's friend). Lori has an indoor swimming pool in her home and given how much the girls LOVE the water and swimming... we thought this would be a great bonding as well as a good way to spend a couple afternoon hours.
Their home is BEAUTIFUL and the pool area was so so nice. However, the pool water temperature was colder than the twins or Mama liked.. :( Papa did do the polar bear plunge.. hoping that the girls might as well, but after sticking our feet in the edge they kept saying, NYET - to cold! (Penny's driver came in with us and translated! :) )
Here are some pics though:
|This one is out of order..but, here we are brushing our teeth before our pictures1 :)|
|Kicking water on Papa!|
|Warming up in the Sauna!|
We have been here for Sat and Sun with no plans and nothing to do for 2 whole days. Again, THANK you Jesus for Penny and Richard's house! The highlight of the past 2 days has most definitly been our 9 am appointment to skype with the girls and our family at home! Faith and Grace have loved it as much as they have. It's been so much fun watching them all and seeing them meet on the computer! :)
Saturday was a lazy day.. we did venture out after naptime because the days are LONG for Phil and I. However, again we are SO SO SO thankful we are not doing this in a tiny HOTEL room with NO kitchen. To those of you AP's who have already been here and lived this part out in a hotel... I am so so so sorry! :) I wish I would have prayed harder for you! :)
Penny had told us about a rest. with an indoor playground inside it that was not far from their house. We couldn't find it. We found out today that we were only a few feet away.. lol! oh well.. We wanted to get something to eat and get out of Penny and Richards hair and kitchen. They were having a dinner party.. and we didn't want to intrude. They insisted we were not.. but, we were trying to be respectful. We looked and looked for the rest... and couldn't find it.. finally we see a sign that says, Sandwich shop in English! :) I go in and check it out.. they have an English menu. It's small and the choices are not great.. but, it ends up being good food. :)
Phil and I had a sandwich and we ordered some pasta for the twins.. however, Grace didn't like it (the first thing either have NOT eaten!)
Here we are on our outing yesterday:
|Here they are in their new stoller for the first time! This is on the steps of Penny and Richard's house!|
|Headed out and down the gate to the street. That is Penny and Richard's home in the background!|
On Saturday night the girls slept for 10 straight hours. I went to bed when they did and also slept for 10 hours.. only waking up 3 times! :) yeah! Not nearly as worn out feeling today!
It's now 10 pm here on Sunday and I'm finishing up this post..
Today was another good day. The girls are learning so much every single day! I am so so so proud of them!
They are so precious and loving to us!
We just hung our around the house today and played. We did venture out to a nearby park and walked around some. Penny went with us and showed us some sights. The girls played in the snow and we threw snowballs at Papa! That was fun.. they were in shock when I threw the first one! It was obvious that they were NOT allowed to touch or throw the snow at the bh... but, after some encouragement Grace was a PRO! Faith didn't really like to get her hands wet or cold! LOL! They are polar opposites! It's amazing!
We have our embassy apt. tomorrow afternoon and we're going to drive up into the mountains to sight see tomorrow with Penny and her driver. Hopefully the girls will enjoy the car ride! Phil and I really want to see the mountains! :)
Pray all goes well at the embassy! This is the FINAL step... Our flight is scheduled to leave Almaty @ 4 am on Tuesday monring... so about 30 hours from now! Wahoo!!!
We are so excited to think that we are almost heading home! However, we DREAD the travel!
PLEASE keep praying for the girls!
We love all of you!
Remember that if the Lord asks you to do something... He is planning on paving the way! JUST take a step and TRUST him!
Today I just continued to think of the scripture.... "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the GLORY of God?" Wow! Yes, Lord you did... I am so sorry I doubted you for a second! We give all the praise and glory to YOU! Thank you Jesus for these two babies who are sleeping feet away from me! THANK YOU JESUS... THANK YOU for trusting us with them! We are honored!