Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back in B-town!

We arrived back in Boyarka this morning, safe and sound. The overnight train back was the usual hot and stuffy ride that it always is. Note to future overnight train riders, always try to get the bottom two bunks. Those always go first because they are the coolest and the closest to the floor. We have a traveling clock and thermometer. The bottom bunk was recorded at 77 degrees while the top bunk hovered around 82. Hot air rises! I don't know about you, but I can't sleep when it is hot and there is noway to open the windows. You are considered strange if you leave your door open all night and they say that this is not safe anyway (we have never had problems with theft). Opening the door doesn't aleviate the heat anyway. Last April we opened the hallway window and caught the wrath of the attendant. Up went the window. There is a big phobia here about drafts. Oh, and don't sit on the concrete either. Bad juju! Anyway, I found a tiny air leak in the window seal and stuck my face in it all night. It would cease to exist when we stopped (you stop about 40 times to pick up or drop off passengers). That's when I would be jarred awake or warmed up so that my "turkey button" popped (you know what I mean). Woe is me! Sorry, I needed to whine a little. I'm feeling that Matt Garrett state of "anxiousness"!

OK, you probably want to know about the trip to Kherson. We picked right up where we left off with our friends in Kherson. We stayed at the infamous, House of Bible. It is just four blocks from R & Z's internat. We visited with Rimma in the evenings after school and we spent time with our young Christian people during the day. We got up early on Wednesday to go to Stari Zburivka (SB), compliments of the AGAPE van and our driver, Sasha. We picked up Luba, Natasha's daughter on the way. She along with Sergey would be our translator. This also gave us a chance to be with Luba again (she stayed in our home with the camp kids this year) and for her to see her mom for the first time in over two months. Luba attends a private school in Kherson and lives with her grandmother.

Natasha called us on the way there to ask where we were. For those of you who don't remember who she is, Natasha is the assistant director of the SB orphanage and UOO's direct contact for SB. She helps us get the kids to Colorado each year. Back to topic; we arrived at SB and Natasha immediately came out to greet us. We were taken into her office for refreshments and a quick explanation of what we would be doing that day. In no time, the kids from the 2007 & 2008 camps started appearing! It was all hugs and kisses!

We were asked to participate in some outdoor games with the kids in a nearby forest, so off we went. The orphanage's physical fitness teacher conducted a few games with us and the kids had a good time away from class for awhile. Next, we went inside to hand out the many gifts and letters to all of the UOO camp attendees. The kids loved the dart guns from Karly (big hit) and Ilona was treated to a suitcase full of goodies from her pen-pal "Grandma Judy". Ilona, being the generous girl that she is, shared most of her stash with the other girls. Tatum Volf had made personalized cards for each kid and inside each was a letter written by the Volf's. The gifts where appreciated and made all the kids very happy. The letters caught the attention of everyone and where a very treasured prize! Pen-paling makes a world of difference to an orphan, please get involved! We were secretly holding back the names of the kids until they asked for their letter. Near the end, Volva exclaimed that he hadn't received a card. Heidi told him that he didn't ask for one. When he did, his eyes lit up! All the kids read their letters and passed them around to show. Of course, they kept their eyes on their individual coveted letter!

Vanya wasn't present because he was at the sanitorium. His uncle has TB and the orphanage took the precaution of sending him there. As you know Svetlana was adopted by an Ukrainian family. Denis and Sergey are living with a foster family. Ina is living at a technical school, she has aged out. Katya and Ruslan were moved to a different orphanage so that they would be closer to visiting relatives.

Little Natasha and Ilona were much more outgoing than we expected. They picked right up where they were with us at the end of the camp. They are usually shy and reserved. Both girls smiled and actively engaged me and Heidi. Little Natasha even hugged me and sat in my lap a few times with her arm around me, something she would never do at the start of Camp 08. Rhya and Katya where a little more cautious with their feelings but warmed up later and were happy for the love and attention.

Zhenya, Vitalic, Sasha, Vasya, Vova and Igor were especially happy to see us. I was mobbed by the little guys and I was very happy to be shown so much love and affection by these boys. Of course we got "THE QUESTION" from a couple of the little guys. It broke my heart to tell them no. It didn't help that Natasha, in front of the boys, told us that a Ukrainian family wants to foster them and she is coaching the boys to say no to them. She said that they should go to a nice Colorado family instead. Ugghh, she's killin' me! Grab you hankies! When we left these boys brought me a stuffed animal gift. I asked him to keep it, but with tears in his eyes, he told me to take it as a reminder of him. My pet Girraffe is safely tucked into the side of my backpack.

As we were leaving, we finnally got to meet Natasha's husband and we got the hard sell again from her father-in-law, Nickolai the director, about the need for a van. In a comical fashion he said he fell in love with AGAPE's van and expressed his tremendous need for such transportation. He went on and on about it and after awhile, I asked Sasha for the keys and handed them to him. This brought a roaring round of laughter from the adult crowd and I made like we we walking back to Kherson. He said that he wouldn't make us walk, he would give us a ride in his new van! This would be a tremendous gift for those of you out there looking to do something for the orphans of SB.

On the train back to Kiev last night, during our bouts of conscious heat exhaustion, Heidi cried for the two boys who want us. I pondered how to get my friends (hint, hint, wink, wink) to donate materials, time and talent to finish my basement for what could be the Roge' Seven (Nadia, Julia, Kolya, Zina, Rimma, plus two?) Remember, if you build it, they will come!

Stay tuned for pictures from the camp. We are having technical difficulties uploading them.

About Us

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.