Monday, July 14, 2008

Where in the world is Murmansk?? Russia??

I've started a process I can't stop! When we adopted our second child from Russia, the decision was made that I would go by myself to "pick out" the child.....Larry thought it would be best that one of us stay behind for the other three. So......I did a lot of prayer, soul-searching, emailing and shopping for 8 days by myself! Here's the first installment of my solo-journey around the world to meet our precious Scooter:

Dear Friends: Well, I am here safely and having a good time. The breakfast was interesting, shall we say, and I am very glad I brought slim-fast bars with me! This afternoon I will go to the airport again to pick up the proxy paperwork (power of attorney) from Larry that somehow disappeared until yesterday. I have spent the morning touring around the city with my interpreter/guide. I think he has been amazed at how I can shop - and I've been taking it easy on purpose! Saving Larry lots of money.......There WAS that grey mink hat I saw today (and resisted!)

But the really good news is that my guide is a Christian! We went to a Christian book store this morning and they were playing a Rebecca St. James CD! I bought a Russian children's bible for the kids. So even though the IMB has no missionaries here, God is looking out for my safety! There are lots of interesting monuments and things around the city. It is, as all Russian cities are, very bleak looking. It is summer here, and last night I could see my breath. My sweater today was almost not warm enough, and my hands got cold walking around the city.

I may get to go to Wednesday night church services, which are held in a member's home. They start churches here by establishing a "cell" group, which you may be familiar with. I gave my guide several packs of Russian children's tracts, which he said they can use with Sunday School and outreach. We may want to collect some children and adult Sunday school materials and other religious books to bring back next trip.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be very busy. I will first go to the Ministry of Education and officially receive the referral of the child. Then, we will go to the orphanage, which is in the city. Around lunch time, we will go to see several more sights, then back to the orphanage. I will go to the notary's office (attorney's office) either tomorrow afternoon or on Thursday to prepare and sign the petition for adoption. Then I will get to go to the orphanage again on Thursday and see the child again. This will be so very different than with Hannah. The first time we saw Hannah, we got to see her for an hour, and that was it! Hopefully, I will be able to spend a lot of time with this little guy!

I will be leaving Murmansk very early Friday morning, and will arrive in Moscow at about 10:30 a.m. on Friday. I've set aside Friday afternoon to rest, and all day Saturday to shop! Then the journey home begins on Sunday morning, which is Saturday night at home. As I am writing this, it is 3:10 pm on Tuesday, which is about 7:10 a.m. at home. My knee is better (for those of you who knew I twisted it on Sunday), and I have spent the day with a evangelical Christian. What a wonderful time I am having! Please keep praying for me. I was looking at wisdom verses last night, reading in Proverbs and Phillipians about wisdom. Please pray for me tomorrow and Thursday, that I might have wisdom and God's discernment about this child. Continue to pray for my safety. I thank God for all of you!

I distinctly remember being picked up at the airport and having my initial conversation with my driver/interpreter. I kept thinking "this guy is a Christian" from his conversation.....and finally he apologetically asked if I was a Christian! What an answer to prayer to be safe in the care of a Christian brother, even if it was half-way around the world!!

This is from the second day in Murmansk:

Dear friends & family: It is 3:15 p.m. here local time. I have had so much going on and got back to the hotel too late last night to email. My guide asked if I would like to have dinner with him and his family last night. Of course, I said yes. So we went to his apartment and I met his family. His wife is beautiful and charming, and his two little boys (aged 4 and 6) made me miss Sam very much! They were laughing and climbing all over their daddy just like our kids do. Their entire apartment is a little bit bigger than my kitchen. They have three rooms, a main room where the husband and wife sleep, which is also their living area and his office; the boys share a small bedroom, and there is a kitchen about the size of my laundry room. Plus a private bath. They asked me to pray for the meal in English, and I was so honored. They are starting a marriage ministry at their church (about 700 members).

The city has about 390,000 citizens, and they are optimistic about their church growth. They presently meet in a movie theater at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays. That's the only time they use that facility - the other meetings are in member's homes. I went this morning to the Ministry of Education and formally received the referral of our boy. I took her a huge bouquet of flowers and she was appreciative. Russians love gifts, as we learned our last trip. Then we went to the orphanage, and I got to spend about 1-1/2 hours with the child. He is very fair complected, with blond hair and blue/grey eyes. He looks, as my brother in law Phillip would say, like a little "rooskie". He is very fat and solemn, not unlike how Hannah was when we first got her. I took lots of video of him. He has 5, almost 6 teeth, and is sitting up very well and also beginning to pull up.

The orphanage was very clean and bright, also very cheerful. I was told that the contributions made by American adoption agencies are begining to trickle down to the actual orphanage and improvements made there. The difficult thing today was that I was taken to watch Stephen eat, and unexpectedly was in the room with 10 other children. All looking at me, watching me closely. One little girl obviously had Down's syndrome. How heartbreaking to know that each of these children need a momma and daddy to love them. I must close quickly now, as it is time to go back to the orphanage for an afternoon visit. Please continue to pray for me - for safety, wisdom and the discernment of the Holy Spirit. I am enjoying talking theology with my guide - he said I was a great Bible teacher and orator! Who knew??

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