Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Freaky Hotel Room

I think our hotel room is jinxed.

We have this sink that everytime you turn it on you get a shower. Somehow, we can never remember to turn it on easily and BOOM, wet all over.

The refrigerator turns on and off at will so our drinks may or may not be cold when we open it.

And now, the air conditioner (kind of a wall unit way up high on the wall -- it has a REMOTE CONTROL of all things???) is dripping -- a lot. I went downstairs to tell them and they brought me a bucket to put under it. Ahhh.... well, that's an excellent choice.

The iron light comes and goes on and off, but the iron is always on if it's plugged in.

Two or three times a day the power flips off and then back on.

Weird stuff.

I'm off to bed, hopefully for several hours of deep sleep!!

What DAY is it?

Ok, people, I'm normally just as crazy as a bug anyway, but you add a timezone that is 11 hours different and it's always a different day here than home and when I sleep you all are awake and when I'm awake, you all are asleep, I'm just LOST. I don't know what day it is -- honestly. I think it's Saturday. My computer says it's 3:47 am and that's back home so it must be 2:47 in the afternoon here. Saturday??

Anyway, I've given up on knowing what day it is. I ask everytime I call somebody back home and every day, a couple of times a day I ask Kevin. It's just crazy.

We got to visit with "The Princess" again today. She slept the entire time. We did get to give her her 12:00 feeding so that was nice, but again, she slept through that too. I'm hopeful that tomorrow she will be awake. The orphanage director told us that yesterday, while we weren't there, that she went in around the time we should have been there and Ellie was crying. She picked her up and carried her outside and she stopped. When she put her back down, she started crying again. I think we're beginning to spoil her highness. Oh, I hope so! :-)

Kevin and I talked about how, while we hate to leave, we are ready to go home. We want to visit her as much as possible, but are aware of the limitations and that she will not come home with us this time, and so it makes it a bit easier. We know that very soon we'll return and have her forever.

We are going to the Metro again today -- we decided we needed an American fix again. Josh said today, "Man, I miss Matzatlan." That's our local favorite Mexican restaurant. We ALL miss Matzatlan, I think.

We saw some babies of other families today and they were SO CUTE too. We loved watching them with their caregivers and knowing they would be going home to their forever families soon!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Things I Will Miss and Do MIss

Sometimes I think I spend too much time pointing out different things as negative things when they aren't. So... I've realized, there will actually be some things (other than Ellie) that I will miss from this country. Just so I'll remember that when I'm home, I wanted to record them:

  1. Olives and pickles at breakfast. Ok, so I know this is just flat out crazy, but I have grown to LOVE having olives and pickles with my breakfast. One day they didn't have any and I was distraught. It appears this culture has less "sweeties" than the American culture. They eat more meats, cheese, pickles, olives, veggies and fresh fruits. They also walk a LOT more than we Americans which is why there don't appear to be nearly as many overweight people here.
  2. Early morning time. Because of the time change, I always wake up long before Kevin and Josh. I get to see the sunrise, usually, read my email, post on the blog, spend time in prayer and have some quiet time before I start my day. At home, there is always SO MUCH to do that I never have any quiet time. This has been a blessing.
  3. Vladimir, our driver. Neither of us speak the same language but I just like him. He's like a grandfather figure. I want to ask Aliya if she'll take a picture of all of us. He grumbles when he's pulled over for speeding (it's happened 4 or 5 times so far) and he gripes in traffic and he points out all the sights in Russian. He's just great.
  4. The shower at the Silk Road Lodge. I should take a photo of it as I can't describe it, but I love having a handheld shower head to wash with. I think I'll investigate options at home to add this to my shower.
  5. The mountains and the drive to Tokmok. While I don't particularly care for the traffic or diesel fumes, I love when we get out of Bishkek proper and hit the countryside area. I love seeing the mountains and the farm lands and the animals. It's so beautiful.
  6. Inexpensive batteries. Yes, another crazy one, but batteries at home are RIDICULOUS. We pay $3.06 USD for 4 turbo duracell batteries here. They last forever.

What I cannot wait to have again:

  1. ICE. Everything here is tepid. I really would love some ice cream or ice cubes or something!!
  2. Real air conditioning. No one uses air in their cars here -- except Vladimir (another reason I like him a lot). The hotel room does has a wall type unit that cools our bedroom really well, but doesn't really cool both the bedroom and sitting area. After walking everywhere in the heat, A/C is a commodity. I feel really sorry for those who are travelling here in July and August (read "me" on return trip) as it should be sweltering.
  3. Southern style cooking. Don't read lard based cooking or anything, but I'd like a casserole or some spaghetti (that tastes right) or some bacon and eggs -- real food.
  4. English spoken everywhere. We have managed to communicate, don't get me wrong, but it has been challenging. I'm ABSOLUTELY learning a few phrases before I return. Common courtesy phrases like please, thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye and some basic phrases like how much, where is, do you speak English and I don't speak Russian would be helpful.
  5. My pets. I really miss by kitties and doggies. I know they are being well cared for by Kevin's mom. In fact, we have accused her of spoiling them and told her if she does they have to go home with her. :-)
  6. My curling iron. We brought an adapter, but also need a converter for things like the curling iron that don't have it built in. I don't use it so much to curl as to straighten. I feel like curly-head Shirley Temple when I've been out in this heat. I'm managing without it, but would have like to have had it to use.
  7. Charmin. The TP here is a bit rough. Gets the job done, but truly, it's more like a cheap brand of paper towel than TP.

So, there you have it. Things I'll miss and things I do miss.

Flamingo World and Souveniers

There are no flamingos at Flamingo World. It is also NOT Disney World which is what the original concept was meant to be. It's just, well, weird.

Today we went to Flamingo World. The sign billed it as Central Asia's Amusement Park. However, while it provided some much needed entertainment and relief from thinking about all things adoption and all things different, sadly, it is, at best to us Westerners, a very run down theme park. Josh had fun. We had fun. So, it that, it fulfilled it's purpose. It was inexpensive. Entry for two adults and one child (who got 10 rides), 250 som ($6.91). We also bought a fan for my mom, 100 som ($2.76), a couple of extra ride tickets (200 som - $4.52), a soda (50 som - $1.38), taxi fare to and from (200 som - $4.52), a bubble blowing fan for our new friend Aidai (100 som - $2.76), and time at a shooting gallery (50 som - $1.38). All total, $24.53. For a few hours of out of the hotel fun, you can't beat it. Here are a few pix from that excursion (and some running commentary):

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by concrete statues of "ELLIE"phants. Now, I'm not sure if they were meant to be Dumbo or what the significance was. I was pretty much unable to tie all the concurrently running themes together here.

This Asian style dragon is over in the reptile statue area. I'm not sure what the purpose of these statuary are BUT, they are unfortunately in disrepair and their signs are rusted out.

These cute little children are frolicking over an entrance way. Sadly, middle child's face is missing. Someone has patched over it with concrete. Kind of freaky.

We aren't sure what this sign says (as we don't read Russian either), but the weeds have overgrown much of it anyway.

I'm guessing this is the replica of Cinderella's castle. At the entrance is a Snow White sign replete with Cinderella and her castle. It is up top of this entry. So, is it Snow White or Cinderella -- couldn't decide?

I'm fascinated with the little girls here and sneak pictures when I can. I knew my mom would be fascinated by their crocheted hats as she has had some made for Ellie before we even knew it was the "style" for little girls here.

I'm not sure WHY this little girl was so dressed up to come to the park, but, maybe it was her birthday or something? She was very pretty.

After the park, our taxi driver dropped us at the Beta. Before we left, we had the hotel write this on a card so we could give it to him. Worked out fine. While there, I found a traditional Kyrgy outfit for Ellie, which is something I really wanted to get for her. This is about a size 2T, I'm guessing. No sizes in it as we are told they are made locally. It's very pretty with rhinestones and velvet vest and a satiny underdress. There is also a velvet hat. We've been looking for a tall (think princess :0) hat called a tebetei. A bride wears something similar with netting called a shokulo.

Here is some information I found online regarding girls Krygy dress:

Girls up to age seventeen wear long dresses (koinok). These dresses are semi-sheer, have high necklines, and have many layers of flounces or frills at the neck, sleeves, and skirt. White, red, yellow, and other bright colors indicating youth are preferred for girls. A sleeveless jacket (kamzol) is worn with the dress. These vests come in different lengths, but girls usually wear the shortest vests. The kamzol is made from heavy fabrics, usually velvet, and can be many colors; it is decorated with embellishments referred to as saima. The decorations are most extensive on the center front corners of the kamzol.

Girls' hair is traditionally arranged in about forty braids (besh kokul) and is covered by headdresses such as a cone-shaped hat (tebetei) that may have feathers and silver or gold coins, precious stones, pearls, threads, and beads.

We also got a pair of felt shoes for her a baby doll, a felt elephant ornament and a small felt yurt. I plan to get her a "barbie" in traditional dress as well, but I haven't found the one I want yet.

Visit Joshua's site for his narrative on today. It's always fun to hear his viewpoint on this trip!

Tomorrow we visit Ellie again. YAY!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Visit

Today we got to visit "The Princess" again and let me tell you she was so animated today. She was cooing and "talking" and such as soon as we got her from her room. After a few minutes she began trying to suck on my finger and she sucked so hard she was making "slurping" noises. We asked Aliya if they could find her a pacifier and once she had it, boy, she went to town sucking on it!! She sucked herself right on off to sleep.

We were really excited to get to feed her today as well. She drank down 100 ml (normally, she eats 90) in a very quick time. We tried to burp her and got a teeny tiny burp and she fell out on her daddy's chest. She looked so peaceful I hated to wake her up.

While we can't wait to have her home and would love to be able to visit her every day until time for her to come home, we realize that we have to leave her for a good while. I'm very sad about that. While I know the caregivers will provide care for her and we will have left formula, diapers, vitamins, photos, blankets, her lullaby elephant and some pacifiers, none of those things can compare to the daily activities of being talked to and held and loved by her family. We talked tonight about how her life will never be the same. She will never want for someone to hold her. In fact, we think we might to sign up to hold her ourselves as we know there are so many people at home waiting to love on her.

Here's some pix of where Josh is sleeping and how he looks when he sleeps.

Here is a picture of our little ones tootsies:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Accepted our Referral

At today's visit, we met with the director of the orphanage who is also the orphanage doctor. She is a very, very nice lady and we think she is very concerned with presenting all the information about children and doing what it takes to make parents feel comfortable about their child's medical history and past.

The trip to Tokmok was fraught with frustration today as there was some sort of traffic jam. Boy, these folks don't have road rage, they just drive like there are no rules. There's a photo today of the BUS that was so close to us that if you stuck your nose out the window, you would have touched it.

We had a GREAT visit with "The Princess" today and she opened her eyes, smiled and cried. It was so good to "meet" her personality a little. I'm sure we will continue to see more of it during each of our upcoming visits. She managed to grasp our fingers tightly today as well.

Here's you an "unidentifying" photo of my "boys" and "The Princess". And let me tell you, Josh is in LOVE with her. I can already tell that we are going to have to fight to get to hold her. :-) Maybe after the "new" wears off and she's home a while, he'll grow accustomed to her and not be quite so enamoured, but now ... wow! I think it was the perfect choice to bring him -- even though he spends a lot of time being "BORED" (I hear that a lot). In retrospect, I should have packed more entertainment for him. Oh well, now he realizes it's not all about having tons to keep him entertained.

We found the Metro Bar and Grill today with some help from some Americans that we brought a package over for. They were so nice and drove us over. The food was excellent there. Kevin had chicken enchiladas and potato skins; Josh had a cheeseburger and fries and I had chicken fingers. All very good.

We then walked down to the Zum store. It was very busy and very crowded and a very long walk, but on the third floor there were some very nice souvenirs. I'm not sure if we'll go back or not while we are here. We walked past The White House, several statutes and fountain areas on the way. It was all very pretty and we took lots of photos for Ellie to have when she gets older.

I've decided to make her a "Blurb" book ( with the photos from this and the second trip. I've already decided the title of the book will be "The Road to Tokmok". I've taken quite a few pictures of the people and sights and scenery along the road there and can also add all the photos of her as a baby and narrative from our trip here. I think I will likely do this in lieu of a "Lifebook". I'm excited thinking about making it and her being able to have it all her life.

Still not sleeping during the times I ought to but I'm getting about six hours per night so I'm fine. I'm usually up around 3 a.m. here and I get some quiet time before the day starts to get paperwork done. Maybe, by the time we leave, I'll have it done. :-)

We will visit with "The Princess" again today and we are excited about it. We are stopping along the way to get her some diapers. We stopped yesterday to buy some special vitamins for her.

Here are a few photos of just "stuff" for you to enjoy!

This is my favorite photo from today. I would LOVE to have a day where I could go around and photograph the faces of the people in this country. SUCH character!!

These are the buses people use here. There are no true bus stops out in the country. Just stand on the side of the road and wait for one to pick you up is what it seems to be. They are jam packed (as seen during the traffic jam)

I'm not certain but I think this is probably a church. The country is predominantly Muslim.

This is a local gas (petrol) station.

If you click on the photos, I think you can see them larger, but there are some workers in the far distance of this photo. These are the farm lands. Note the mountains in the back. On the other side of those are Kazakhstan.

Here's a photo for my mom -- it's a formal wear shop:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trust in the Lord

While I lay awake this morning at 3:00 a.m. I contemplated getting up, but instead a verse came to me and I spent a long time thinking about it, studying it, praying it:

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your OWN understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will DIRECT your path.

There have been so many things during this journey I have not understood. There have been so many things that I have had to go on faith and take huge, uncomfortable leaps. We are still walking in that faith today as we meet with the orphanage director/doctor to learn of Ellie's medical history.

God continues to whisper in my ear that everything is ok, that He is in control and reminding me how very, very many things He has taken care of -- without my help.

And, so, when I logged in this morning, I almost cried to find that the funds have become available to grant us a loan from The Abba Fund -- an interest free loan, no less, to cover a portion of our adoption. We had put a large chunk on our credit cards before leaving and were concerned about the interest we'd have to pay, but had no other option. Now this. With this and some other fundraisers we are doing when we get home, we will have enough to come back to get her!! Of course, we knew God would not call us and then not provide, but it's always glorious to watch Him work.

Trust in the Lord -- lean not on your own understanding.

Thank you, God.


Yesterday (Tuesday) was our "off" day when we did not get to visit Ellie. I have LOTS of paperwork that is due by May 30, so I spent the whole day working on that. Josh and Kevin walked over to the Beta store for more Pringles, soda and water and found the Italian restaurant that Allison told us about. Then they went swimming for awhile. Don't believe the brochure saying that the pool at the Silk Road is heated. It is not and is about 68 degrees. I am NOT getting in that pool as I require 90* and sunshine before my toes dip into the pool at home.

We all ventured out of our comfort zones at the buffet this morning and tried some things we didn't know what they were. I had something like cheese bread/pizza combination that was good. Kevin and Josh had some type of pastry with a hamburger filling. Kevin also had some kind of roll that had hamburger and rice in it. We all walked away full. Joshua has developed a LOVE for pineapple juice and has a couple of glasses every morning.

Early afternoon (3:00 ish) we went to dinner at the Italian restaurant. Kevin had tortellini; I had spinach ravioli with a cream sauce and Josh got spaghetti with meat sauce. We all ordered Pepsi light. Be forewarned, there is NO ice in this country. Our first drinks were, at best tepid and in a juice sized glass. The second drinks for Kevin and Josh were cold but when I asked for another, they had run out. Mine and Kevin's food were really good, but we noticed Joshua kind of playing around with his. When I took a taste, it wasn't really all that good. He only ate about a third of it. I ordered tiramisu for us but Kevin said he was too full and didn't eat any. Josh tried a bite and determined it tasted like coffee (surprise!) and didn't eat any. Well, I did, and I promise you it was the BEST tiramisu I had ever had. Total bill $37.71 American. Since we had not spent any money today, we felt like it was a bargain. :-)

Joshua exchanged some of his money at the Beta and we bought more batteries for tomorrow, and then we went to a toy store and kids clothing store combination down from the Beta store. My GOODNESS those sales people followed us everywhere we went in the store. It was creepy. Finally, Kevin picked out a 1000 piece puzzle to work on over the next few days. 200 soms - $5.52 USD.

We returned to the room where I started working again and they worked on their puzzle for a while. They then went swimming for an hour. Josh took his shower and again stated he was NOT tired and thought that going to bed at 7:30 was just crazy. He laid down and was asleep in minutes. It's almost 4:00 a.m. and he's still asleep, so I'm guessing he WAS tired after all.

I had been asleep for a while when the phone rang. Kevin apparently had fallen asleep on the couch and stumbled over to get it. It was our interpreter telling us to be ready at 9:00 tomorrow to go to visit Ellie. Since we thought they were picking us up at 9:30, it's a good thing she called. Kevin called to tell Elizabeth and fell into the bed and we slept.

That's it for Tuesday!

Oh, and a final tidbit, the Silk Road Lodge does not have washcloths so bring your own. We had heard this somewhere and brought some and are thankful we did.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Morning After

It's about 1:30 in the morning here in Bishkek and I'm awake. Kevin and Josh are still out, but I suspect they might be up before the sun as well. We went to bed about 7:30p local time. I am actually enjoying the quiet time right now and will soon start to entering work from before I left. I'm planning to spend the day doing that and then tomorrow we will go back to see Ellie and meet with the orphanage director, our coordinator and translator for medical information.

Thursday we are excited to meet John Wright and go to the mountains. I can't tell you how beautiful the country is here. I love the freedom of the animals alongside the roads with no fences, the beautiful snow-capped mountains and the fields. Many have commented on how poor and run down the country is, and while that is true, I think it is likely indicative of a society that just hasn't moved along to the fast pace of America. I don't think that is bad all the time, just different. It was so refreshing to see little kids playing in the side streets, in the dirt and riding bicyles, mothers walking along with other women, talking. I spend much time in America, wishing life would slow down from the frantic pace we all currently live in. To be honest, I have not, for one minute, missed my cell phone. At home, I would have used it 20 times a day. I have missed a microwave in my hotel room, but have adjusted just fine. I have missed Sonic on every corner as well *smile*. My waistline, however, probably has not. All that having been said, I wouldn't want to live here, because it is not the life I'm used to, but I cannot knock their culture entirely because parts of it are so appealing.

I continue to look over the photos we took yesterday of Ellie. Oh how I wish they would let us unbundle her for a bit and see her in her entirety: toes, belly button, hair. But we remember we are a guest in their "home" and need to play by their rules. When I come back to get her and am "officially" her mommy, I can parent her as I see fit then.

Josh is having a lot of fun in the hotel pool. I'm not sure what today holds for he and Kevin while I work, but we will report back later. He fell asleep last night before writing in his "blog" so we might do that when he awakens. He loves to look at his hit counter each day.

Sleep and food have improved my mood drastically. Our friend A. who just returned from here gave me two locations for good food for today so early afternoon we'll go try one of them out. I'm so thankful for that info. For other PAPs, find out, after you know where you are staying, where the closest English-speaking eateries are from other families who have been here. It will be helpful for you. Other than the food and sleep issues, we are doing well, so far. I think now, with information on the food issues, we will do better. :-)
And, even with my minor discomforts and inconveniences, I realize that this is the trip of a lifetime and the culmination of years of prayer and longing for a little one. My faith is being tested and it seems a bit harder to be in the faith when you are out of your element. I continue to be in prayer and know that the prayers from people back home will see us through this trip and during the time until we can bring Ellie home. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to log on and see the sweet words from the people back home who are cheering us on and sharing in our joy. You are so important to us here and we are so thankful for you!

Oh, and for my friend Susan, who is a Starbucks addict, here's a photo of the "localized" version of Starbucks where they sall MacCoffee. From what I can tell, a cup of MacCoffee is 30 com or about $.83. Tea, is about 10 com or $.28. We've been buying Coke light in a half liter for 89 com or $2.47, I think.

Coffee anyone?

The mountains along the road to Tokmok

The moutains again

Cattle in a stream

All my scenery photos are taken out the window of a car that is being driven pretty darn fast so several are blurry. I'm going to get more batteries so we'll have plenty for the next trip as I only got "going" to Tokmok and not coming back. I've told Josh we have to trade sides of the car this next time.

"Meetcha" Day

This morning we were up early (time is all screwed up for us) and were ready to go when our translator, coordinator and drivers arrived to take us to Tokmok.The drive was a little over an hour and I soaked up all the sights and culture that I could.

There were several things that struck me as we traveled along to Tokmok. There are lots of animals, but no fences -- anywhere. There are also no lines on the road as you get out of the city of Bishkek. It's pretty much drive anywhere you like as long as you don't hit anyone else.The country area is poor, but so beautiful with their fields and animals and snow capped mountains on one side and hillsides on the other. Our driver, Vladimir, tried to tell us some things (in Russian) and we were able to pick out some things, mainly from reading about other's experiences from the Kyrg yahoo list. There are a lot of people on the sides of the road and there is a strong smell of exhaust pretty much every where. Lots of kids out playing with no apparent supervision. Farmers working in the fields are abundant the further out you get. Their homes are mishmash "put-together-what-you-have" homes. It's very different from where we live. I took a bunch of photos along the way and will share a few here. Mainly I want Ellie to have a nice visual reference of the country from where she came -- even if it's just the road from Bishkek to Tokmok.

When we got to the orphanage, they took me right away to the baby room where they pointed out Aimana. My first thought was, "This isn't her." I checked the name and the birth date and they matched but I was just not prepared for how very tiny she is. When I asked her weight, they checked the latest numbers and told us 2.9 kgs, which converts to 6.4 pounds. They then told me they would wrap her up and let me take her outside. Imagine my surprise to know that I would get to show her to Joshua!! We weren't expecting to be able to as we were told he would not be allowed to see her. She is so tiny and so light and so delicate. A couple of days ago, she scraped her eyelid and there is a small red mark there. She has long fingers and tiny, tiny hands. We managed to get a while alone with her, sitting outside and got her hat off so we could see her hair. It's dark and has some wave to it. Very cute!!! We never got her to open her eyes. We tried blowing on her, calling her, moving her around. We thought we were close once, but she just went back to sleep. Since she was a preemie, we are thinking she just needs more sleep. She had some rapid eye movement (REM) going on so we think she was in a deep sleep.

We were told that we would not be able to sit down and talk with the director/doctor today as her office was being remodeled/painted but that we would be able to do that on our next visit on Wednesday.

Joshua seems totally enamoured by her. He got to hold her with us holding underneath and he just touched her and talked about how tiny she was. He got really upset when he thought we were saying she couldn't open her eyes. He said, "Is she blind?" He almost cried.

As luck would have it, our batteries died while we were there. We managed to get quite a few photos, however. We were told it might be better to wait on the video for now.

For those of you waiting for photos of your babies, we did not ask today since it was the first day. We will wait until a couple more visits when they feel comfortable with us and then ask Aliya to snap them for you.

We are now back in the hotel. We've walked back over the Beta Store and got more sodas and water. I am HUNGRY and there is really no where to go right now. Elizabeth and Bill are going with us for dinner to the American Pub and Grill. We hear the food there is good. I hope so. I'm certain to overeat. :-) Breakfast this morning was ok. There is a "buffet" (not like the U.S., really) and we had ham, olives, pickles, bread with butter and jam, tea and juice. There were some other items, but I didn't have a clue what they were so I didn't try it.

UPDATE: We didn't go out to dinner as it began to rain here and we didn't want to have to take a cab and worry about getting back. After I had a breakdown due to lack of food and sleep, Kevin found that the Dolce Vita delivers and we ordered two pepperoni pizzas and devoured them both. Josh fell asleep shortly after that (I'm NOT TIRED!!! were his words only seconds before falling out asleep). Kevin fell asleep in the chair and has now been sent off to bed and I'm following as soon as I hit "Publish Post".

Here's a small "teaser" photo as we are not allowed to post photos of her until she is officially ours.

I'll do some posts with photos of the town/cities when I return home.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Almost Time

It's almost time to go meet Ellie. I couldn't sleep last night so I went to bed at 2:00 a.m. and was back up at 5:30 a.m. I'm not sure if it is excitement or jet lag. It might be a combination of the two. I spent the evening and morning in thanksgiving prayers to the God who has brought me here. There is no way that I can imagine my being here other than by His hand and I am so thankful that He chose our family to do this. I think of the stories in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament where God would ask people to go to a land that was foreign to them and the stories of how He went before them. I used to think of them simply as stories of people I had nothing in common with, but now, I kind of feel like this "story" of mine is very similar to those of people like Hannah, Joseph and Noah -- infertility, praying for a child, being taken from my "birth" family to a foreign place that became home and then being reunited, having a promise made from God (Ellie) and then being here. Isn't He wonderful?

I'm excited about the ride over to Tokmok as I am dying to see the mountains. I'm interested to see how the people in Tokmok live. I'm so cognizant of the fact that we have been so blessed by God to live in the country we do and to have the conveniences that we do. My parents tell me that seeing the pictures of the lady washing the clothes by hand reminded them of how they grew up. Just as I was writing this, Joshua told me that there was another woman outside the window. As we looked, she was drawing water in a pail to take inside. I'm guessing, but maybe they don't have running water. This is JUST outside the hotel where we have all the conveniences of home -- television, blow dryer, electricity, running water, carpet, a bed and air conditioning. How is the world so inequitable? I wanted to bring Josh to see how other people in other countries live so he would be changed. I suppose I never knew that God would be changing me instead. My heart and life are forever changed just by the lives of the people I'm watching from my hotel window.

It's 7:00 here. We leave at 9:00 to go to the orphanage. I'll try to post scenery pix and the photos I can this evening. I'm not sure how many pictures we will be allowed to take and I'm very sensitive to looking like a "tourist" so I'll do what I can. My "girls" would be surprised to know that I'm really trying to "blend in" and not stir up any commotions. :-)

In Bishkek

We have arrived in Bishkek after a long journey from the other side of the world. :-) Don't let anyone tell you differently, it is a long trip. When you are talking about a 26 trip from home to end, that's long.

Interesting "factoids" for other APs who will travel here:
1. The dollar is worth nothing in London. Eat before you go. :-)
2. Toilet paper in Bishkek (at least at the Silk Road) is what Kevin refers to as "exfoliating paper". You get a smooth bottom as a bonus. :-) Bring your own if that will bother you.
3. The food isn't the same here. You can order the same thing and it won't taste anything like it does at home -- except Diet Coke and Coke Light, which is a blessing as I didn't know what I'd do without Diet Coke.
4. Learn Russian for "No." You will thank me later.
5. If you can swing it, upgrade your tickets. 8 hours gets a bit cramped in coach.
6. People smoke here - a lot.

Tomorrow, we meet "The Princess" with the cute pucker. I can't wait to touch her and hold her. I'm so excited and need to be sleeping but my body isn't adjusted. I'm sure if I lie down I'll go to sleep. We were happy that Skype works well here and that we have wireless. We will only be able to visit "The Princess" every other day so the other days I've GOT to get some paperwork done.

Josh has been a trooper considering his is SO out of his element right now. TV is in Russian, cheeseburgers taste bad and his time is off. Add to that he's getting a sister and WHOA!!! He's is sleeping well now, which is what I SHOULD BE doing.

Oh well... I think I'm going to call someone back home as I'm having phone withdrawal.

Kevin just blew something up. We had an adapter for our battery charger, but apparently we needed a converter as well. Hmmm.. I'm not sure what all is blown up, but it was loud.

I continue to get these feelings in my stomach like a roller coaster ride has just dropped me free fall from about 1000'. It comes, goes and leaves -- every time I think about meeting her. As I looked out my window this afternoon, there was a woman just a piece away doing her laundry with a hose pipe and some rubber tubs. She had a little girl, maybe 2 or so, with her. When she turned around, I saw that she was pregnant. She looked so young. I saw the run-down house she walked back to. This could have been Ellie's mom -- not literally, of course, but her life. How very hard these people have it here. We are such a blessed country and so awfully unappreciative. It was hard for me to go back into the bathroom and use $15 Oil of Olay moisturizer and think of what we were paying to stay in this hotel after seeing her.

I read from another AP who is in country that in this country it is good luck for a dog to cross your path. Last night, on the way to the hotel, one ran out in front of us. Today, Josh spotted one in front of us at lunch. God's little reminders that He has it under control. Now, if He could do something about the food here. We ate (not really, but...) at a restaurant at the Beta Mall. We had cheeseburgers, chicken burgers and fries. Trying to be all positive, I didn't say anything about the fact that mine tasted "funny". I figured it was the chicken. The fries were a little "off" too, but, hey, that's ok too. Then I noticed Kevin wasn't really eating his and neither was Josh. It wasn't bad, really, just made my stomach a bit queasy and for lack of a better word was off. We bought some bread and jelly and have peanut butter so we'll eat some of that if need be. As Kevin said, "We've gone from the Amazing Race to Big Brother." Only Kevin.

We are reminding ourselves that this is a once in a lifetime experience and that it is the culture that has presented us with the daughter we have so longed for. How can that be anything less than perfect? So, we've vowed to live on jelly bellies, PB&J and granola bars until we can find better food. We're asking the coordinator tomorrow. I'm excited about the souveniers I saw at the Beta Store. We are holding off until the end for that to make sure we don't have any unexpected expenses. I love the craft work that I've seen here. I'll post more photos tomorrow of our travels here.

For now, I'm off to sleep in anticipation of meeting "The Princess" tomorrow.

View from hotel window
View from hotel window
Woman washing clothes -- with daughter

Little girl helping mom with washing

Our hotel

Josh, "I'm not tired" on the plane
Kevin and I watching a movie
Our room -- Kevin and Josh
Our bedroom