I'm sorry to everyone for losing it yesterday. Please forgive me. We are still waiting for the passports. But, we can relax a little. God can hear your prayers because he delivered us a helper. A friend of a friend is a big boss inside the passport center. If we don't hear something soon, we will invoke his help. Also, we called the US Embassy. The way that their e-mail notification reads suggests that they will not be open from 24 December to 12 January. Instead, they will only be closed for adoption purposes on the 24 & 25 of December and the 1 & 2 of January. They said that they would not do that to us and that they would process us out. We will just have to find an approved physician to get the medicals done. So, we aren't moving forward yet but, it's not so bad news as we first perceived. We may be flying home on Christmas...but who knows at this point.
Yesterday we blew off some steam and took the Marsutka into Kiev. The last stop on #720 delivers you right in front of the Circus (round building pictured beyond the kids) and the Ukrainia Mall. On the top floor is a fabulous restaurant where you pick your food out like a cafateria style place. It's cheap too! I think we paid 297 grivna (about 30 USD with the rate right now) for all these fixings! Heidi liked it too because she could see what see was getting before she got it. That's my borsct, plov, chicken and crab salad on the end.
Right next to the restaurant is a video arcade and I gave the kids 5 grivna each and explained that when it was gone, they were done. They used it all up in five minutes which was what I expected. I had read that each game was 5 grivna, hee hee hee! No worries though, they didn't complain because it was time for our movie. A movie was the biggest reason for traveling to Kiev and we had already bought our tickets. It was another bargain at $15 USD for all of us. The movie theater is located on the same floor of the mall as the restaurant so it wasn't far to walk. I got everyone some popcorn and we still had our sodas from the restaurant. Side note, five things that I like about Ukrainian movie theaters over American ones: You can walk in with previously purchased stuff here! They have free hat and coat check, beer is served at the concession stand, snacks are cheap $5 USD for 5 popcorns, seating is assigned (you buy your specific seat from a chart located at the ticket office). We saw the new release of Bolt or Volt, whatever. It is a new Disney release and it was opening day. There were only a dozen people in the whole theater including us for the 3pm showing. We followed along with the Russian, not really understanding all the language, but the kids loved it. They laughed out loud several times!
We did a bit of shopping too. Shopping therapy really does help! I especially felt at home in the Colombia store and I felt like I was at home in Colorado...I didn't want to leave! We picked up a few items and I got some new PJs and a few more undershirts to ease my clothing frustration. The girls needed some new undergarments as well and Kole got a better knit cap.
As we were leaving on the first floor, people started gathering around a water fountain in the middle of the mall. A red carpet was rolled out to it and I assumed that we were about to be treated to Santa's arrival (I had seen him earlier in the mall). Music started playing and all of a sudden six mallards and two drakes came waddleing down the red carpet and hopped into the water fountain! The music continued and the ducks swam while we watched for the next 10 minutes. I tried to cut it short and escort my children out as one of the boy duckies started getting a little friendly in the pool. In fact, he got friendly with all his girl duckies as I huddled my groupa (Heidi was outside on the phone). Picture a blushing American man futily rounding up his laughing kids while Mother Nature is on display to all. I'm LOL right now as I type this. Oh well, noone else of the 200 or so onlookers made a big deal about it, so I gave up after awhile. Noone else hid their kids eyes so I guess it was par for the course here in Ukraine. Talk about you "heavy petting" zoo!
By this time, everyone was growing hungry again. Heidi knew that we were only a few blocks away from the train station and that there is a McDonald's by the train station. So off we went! We gobbled up a few hamburgers and McNuggets as we enjoyed a bit of our American culture. It was approaching 8pm and I made the decision to take a taxi home instead of walking several blocks back to the #720 Martsuka stop, and waiting for it to arrive. We have learned enough to know that taxis are more expensive from the train sation due to the fact that the station is in the center of town and that they know that they can charge more. (A cabbie wanted 250 grivna to Boyarka.) So, we jumped on the Metro ($1 USD total for five of us) and rode it to the closest stop to Boyarka where the taxi only costs 80 grivna every time. Sure enough, our guy wanted 80 and we loaded up to go home.
When we got home ice had covered the entire parking lot of our Christian school/living quarters. The kids got a big kick out of us letting them "fake skate" and play. Our missionary friend Becky teaches an adult English night class twice weekly on the first floor. All of her students have become our close friends and we have sat in on the class, helping with instruction from time to time. (It was these guys with whom we gathered for Thanksgiving, at Becky and Nadya's house). They are all Christians and Becky had told them of our plight. One of the students, Zhenya, knows someone at the passport office. Thus, God worked his grace on our situation as we were enjoying another wonderful day with our children. Another student named Roman, who took us to the train station once, told us that we will spend Christmas day with him and his family! I jokingly explained that I hoped to let him down. He understood.
Many thanks and blessings to all of you who rushed to comfort us with your comments. I teared up just reading them. Thank you for the nosebleed recommendations. For some strange reason, Julia started asking for more eggs and she eats them regularly. This has helped. Thanks June. Thank you Twyla for sending the article, we will use it. Lynn, thank you, too. Matt, thanks for making me laugh when I pictured that tank rolling up in front of the pasport office! Thank you all for bringing a smile to my face and reminding us that we have such a large support group! Thank you to all who have written! God bless you all!
Now I must be off. It is St. Nickolas day here and I have been told that it is a custom to bring home a small gift to you children. The outdoor market is right down the street and shopping is a plenty. I saw a shop with some small toys and such. We hope to hear something today about our passports (it is mid-day Friday right now). The embassy closed for a half day today so this week is shot. Kari and Jim will come up on the train this weekend to pick up their kids who are arriving from the US. They will stay with us for a night or two before heading back to Kherson. So, all is done that can be done for this week. Monday starts a new, but short, week. Perhaps we will get it all wrapped up in time to get home by Christmas. At any rate, we will be surrounded by close friends here for the weekend and by you, our close friends who came to our rescue with kind words of aid and hope. I truely love you all...
~ Felix ~