I ventured out to Stara Zburievka, or SB as we at UOO call it. I have had this suitcase of gifts sitting here in the room since we arrived and I have really been wanting to get out there. For those of you who don't remember, SB is in a remote village an hour from Kherson and is where some of the UOO 2007 kids and all of the 2008 kids came from. During good days, the roads are barely passable. I had to wait for a frozen tundra day like today to get out there. Last week, the higher temperatures caused the ice and snow to melt to the point that getting there was impossible.
No sooner had the driver turn off the engine, Vanya and Vova ran out and gang-tackled me. They hugged me forever! Vasya wasn't far behind and he did the same. For the entire two hours, Vova and Vasya had their arms around me. I didn't mind as I reminded them that they are always in our thoughts and prayers.
Vova, Vasya and big boy Vanya teared up when I had to leave. I too, choked back some tears as I kissed them on the head and said goodbye. I don't know if or when I will return. This might have been the last time I ever see any of them this side of Heaven.
While heading home, it started raining. We made it back to the main road after 5 km or so of skating on several village dirt roads. The Lord held up the weather just long enough to visit for two hours. It is sleeting now and the roads here in Kherson are the worst I've ever seen. Natasha, the assistant director says she has never experienced such a severe winter as this...and she's my age! Just my luck!
Some notes of interest from the visit:
- Most of the 2007 kids are gone. Sergei, Igor, Inna, Julia, Sasha are in trade schools
- Katya was moved to another orphanage and hasn't been heard from
- Denis & brother haven't been heard from since that one call a year ago while in Foster care
- Zhenya & Vitalic haven't been heard from since 2008 when they left for Foster care
- Ruslan & Katya haven't been heard from since they were moved to another orphanage
- Illona is in the sanatorium, I wasn't able to give her gifts directly to her. I left them with Natasha
- All the kids form the previous camps want to come back to "Amerika"
- Natasha wants more pictures and e-mails from Sasha (Joshua)
- Sasha Duchsin (Josh's friend) has his mother in his life again. She picks him up on weekends and he is happy about that (she just got out of prison)
- Little Natasha was the most animated and freely smiled, giggled and laughed while she read her letters and opened her gifts. Quite a change from the timid girl I knew. Your letters and gifts have had a huge impact on her. I wish the pictures adequately described what I witnessed.
- Director Nikolai once again asked me for a van while eyeing the AGAPE one!