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Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 15: Gifts

I am reading a beautiful book that was given to us by the woman at the SDA office here. It is called Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives. It is amazing. It is short story after story about incredible families who find their children with Down Syndrome to be an such blessing. They talk about how wonderfully they have changed their lives and all the things they have learned. It makes me feel so blessed that God brought Artem to us and that we have been chosen to be his family. I am so excited to watch him grow and see how God uses him in the lives of everyone he meets. I think he is going to be the most incredible person. And I can't believe I have been given the precious gift of the chance to watch it happen.
He already amazes me and to think of how God wrote this beautiful story of his adoption leaves me in awe of my Creator.

Day 15: The New and Improved Priest Family

We made it! Court was yesterday. It had some stressful moments but we made it through. Our facilitator was awesome. She did a great job and we were so pumped to get out of there. After court was over we went to get Artem and took him to get passport pictures taken, which are absolutely adorable. I hope I get to keep one of them. And then went to do some other paperwork. I am never exactly sure what all we are signing...
We are so grateful to everyone who is praying for us and supporting us. We feel it here and know that God has very careful provided for us and had His hand in every inch of this process. We are so blessed.
Today we celebrated our court success by learning how to use the bus system with Andrea and going out for pizza, which was very good. It was a fun afternoon and then of course we topped it off with our evening visit with Artem.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 13: Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Court Day. We will be meeting our facilitator at the Baby House at 9am and court is at 10am. We are nervous and excited. We are praying that God gives us the words to answer the questions and an opportunity to show His love and light to the people of this country. He has brought us so far, and we have faith He will bring us through tomorrow as well.
Hope to have good news for everyone tomorrow afternoon! When you wake up, it will be over!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 12: Not a fan of the PopCorn

Today was the same as usual. Up and to the baby house, home for lunch, a nap, and a little Skype. Then back to the baby house. Tonight we thought we would try a new treat with Artem. We were sure that at this point there may not be a food that he doesn't love and try to bite your finger off to get to. I was just sure he would love popcorn. But I was wrong. He spit it out. He was over it. There was no talking him into it. So we went back to the usual- animal crackers, which he will bite your finger off for.

He is getting more and more use to us. Happier to see us everyday. Today he even smiled when he came down the stairs and saw us. I think tomorrow we will try to go outside again. Babysteps. Until then, here are a few more glimpses of his precious face.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 10: Get Your Church On.. Cause thats what we did

I must say that we got much more than we were expecting this morning. Our experience with church here up to now has been beautiful buildings that serve a purpose of a museum more than a church. But this morning we were pleasantly surprised and felt very blessed to witness and be apart of what seemed like genuine worship. Oh course we don't know for sure because we couldn't understand any of what they were saying, but still enjoyable. Our dear friend serving here in Artem's city attends this church and invited us to join her this morning. We are very grateful. A few clips from worship....

Since we were at church this morning we missed our morning visit with Artem. So we were pretty excited to see him tonight. We cut up an orange to feed him tonight and got ready. We walked over to the baby house to find the doors locked. I guess there is no visiting on Sundays. Big disappointment. We will be even more ready to see him in the morning. So we took a few pictures of the outside of his baby house and the buildings around where we are staying. It snowed again this morning. It seems to snow an inch or two everyday.

Artem's Baby House from the front.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 9: Progress is progess.

This is the part of the trip that people refer to as Groundhog's Day. Where you wake up and do the same thing over and over. We are there. We sleep alittle bit late, go to the baby house at 10-11:30. Come home, eat, nap. Go back to the baby house, come home, get on the internet, eat, and sleep some more. It really is a pretty relaxing vaca, if we weren't in such a hurry to spring the little guy outta there.
It snowed this morning, but it has not been as cold as we were expecting which is good.
Artem is definetly starting to soften to us. He will let us touch him, and hold him some times. He doesn't turn his back to us like he was doing. And he is starting to realize just how funny his Papa really is. We tried to take him outside yesterday morning and that did not go well at all. I think he thought we are taking off with him. So we abandon the idea, and went back into the "hall". We have also started bringing snacks. The way to Artem's heart is definitly through his stomach. He is very responsive to food, and will do just about anything to get it.
Today he let us start to see his sweet side and we got to see him smile alot more. I think he is fabulous. He is going to be so much fun when we get him home!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 7: The Long Awaited Meeting

I didn't know that when I got dressed Tuesday morning that I would find myself in the same clothes on Wednesday night, which makes for a long day. So we have now been by plane, train, and automobile to get to Artem.

Getting ready for our train ride.

The train station is very beautiful

So after an exciting overnight train ride, we found ourselves in Artem's city being quickly escorted around and then we are given the chance to see him. He is beautiful. We get to spend several hours a day in the morning and evening playing with him. He is not very interested or impressed with us right now. He is very busy and usually working to get away from us. But we will keep trying. We are still strangers.
Our facilitator has been wonderful and working very hard to get what she needs done. So hopefully soon we will get to introduce him as a Priest!

His favorite toy, the Flip Video. Oh Well

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 4: We finally made it out!

We are still working on sleeping during the night instead of the day, but I think we were more successful today. The first milestone of our adventure came and went today without a hitch. We were picked up at our apartment by our facilitator for our appointment. It went well. We accepted Artem's referral today. We get to pick it up tomorrow and then head by over night train to his city.
After all the important stuff was out of the way, we got brave and decided to walk around the city. We enjoyed getting lost and finding our way around. On a warmer day this would be a wonderful place to explore.
We found the under ground "mall". We shopped through a childrens toy store. Took pictures of lots of old buildings. Stopped for coffee and soups for lunch (Brandon got to eat Borsch). Only had to have someone point at our map for us one time. We found the opera house and lots of church buildings. We got dinner at this deli/grocery place where we could point at what we wanted. That makes in easier, kind of...
Pictures of the day:


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 3: getting horizonal

I don't remember where yesterday ended, and today began. All I remember about yesterday is that I wanted to get horizontal after sitting upright for many many hours. After getting a good evening/nights rest we tried to get on the internet, but we fell asleep again. After awaking for the second time. I thought I figured out how to get the internet to work, but I was wrong. I looked at the wires and saw the cable was not connected to the wall. Then success (obviously). So Laura has been online updating and talking to people online. While she was doing that I have been watching tv and fixing meals. I saw a Weird Al video (It smells like Nirvana) and I also saw and infomercial with Mr. T in it. We were going to go out and explore, but then time got away from us between falling asleep and contacting people back home. So basically all day we have been laying in bed. -Brandon

Day 2: January 15th Looks Like We Made It!

Wow! I guess I am not as young as I thought I was, because me+sleeping on a plane= not as awesome as I remember.
So we had a good flight from Philly to Germany. There was a ton of turbulance for hours though. I kept waking up thinking we were falling out of the sky. There must of been a big storm or something. I was praying, "God, I know you are holding onto this plane, but could you please hold it a little tighter..." Lufthansa is a great airline. They feed us twice on the flight and we had lots of movies and tv to chose from.

I watched Despicable Me and Eat, Pray, Love. Which on a side note is not a very good movie. I can tell you in about 30 seconds whats wrong with her, she didn't need to spend a year of her life on it, but that is besides the point. Germany was a quick stop, the plane was delayed though, we had to wait for it to arrive and be refueled. Then we took a bus from our gate over to the plan and got to climb the steps. I just kept thinking, "Don't fall like Hilary Clinton, please." It was another quick flight to our destination in EE. Very exciting we are meet by a man named Niko who was literally holding a sign that said "PRIEST" He loaded us up along with another ReecesRainbow family. They are here for there second trip and hope to be picking up their boys soon. We dropped them off at the train station, exchanged some money, and Niko gave us a quick tour. Then we went to a grocery store for some food to hold us over, and he hooked us up with a phone so our team can stay in touch with us. Our apartment is small, but great.

Day 1: January 14th

Today started with a blessing. I felt really calm and excited this morning as we did all the last minute things. Like the last load of laundry, cleaning the bathroom, finishing with all the packing. And Brandon had a great time running around and thinking of funny things to put on sticking notes and post all over our house for the girls staying there. Sorry ladies...
But we made it to the airport with plenty of time, thank you mom and dad. No frisking or getting felt up needed, no matter what Brandon tries to tell you.
The flight from Louisville to Philadelphia was quick and exciting because we were both still awake mostly. Preparing to start the long leg of the journey... across the ocean.
Here are the pictures of the day!

This is a picture of a lego Liberty Bell that we thought Will might like!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Preparation and Thoughtfulness: January 13th, 2011

Even though I know we have been preparing for this week since June, it is still crazy. It will soon come to an end because whether we are ready or not we will have to leave for the airport. We are so grateful to the beautiful ladies who will be staying at our house while we are gone.
We have been talking about Artem and praying for him for so long that I am starting to get tired of the conversation. People at my work think this has been years in the making instead of months, because we have talked about it for so long. But through God's most beautiful Providence for us I can turn around and be thankful for all the things He has taught Brandon and I through this time and for all the preparation He has put us through. Just think how prayed over Artem is and the country he was born in, it has been saturated in prayer for the last six months.
From Romans 5:" We rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
We have produced much endurance through this time. Brandon and I often look at each other and wonder, who does this? and not just that but how did we get here. Look how we have endured. And the only answer is our mighty God brought us through this long and frustrating journey. He held us in the moments we thought we would never make it to the end or when things popped up we felt would bring it all to a halt. He held us together when we felt the other was not in the same place about something. And he held every piece of paper as it crossed the ocean. Endurance....
Though endurance proven character something I pray we are developing and continue to. Something we will continue to need as we walk the hardest stretch of this road on the other side of the world.
And our character produces much needed hope. It gives us the hope we need to fill our bags with clothes and toys for a little boy we have never meet. It will give us the hope we need to climb on a plane, and the hope we need to continue on the journey, the part of the journey that isn't written on a checklist I can follow, or with a schedule I can hold everyone to. Just an adventure that we will be praying through, and hoping in our Lord, who's Love has already been poured out into our hearts.

The thoughtfulness of our friends and family is also a gift from God. One of my favorite gifts has been a prayer calendar that Erin (my sister-in-law) put together so that there will be someone praying for us everyday we are here. Amazing. What an incredible gift. We are so thankful for all the people on that list and everyone who goes to God on our behalf.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 days and counting... What emotion....