Saturday, May 31, 2008
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.
I'm off to bed, hopefully for several hours of deep sleep!!
Heart contents by Maria at 10:39 AM
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!
Heart contents by Maria at 2:46 AM
Friday, May 30, 2008
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- ICE. Everything here is tepid. I really would love some ice cream or ice cubes or something!!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. :-)
- 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.
- 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.
Heart contents by Maria at 6:13 PM
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.
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!!
Heart contents by Maria at 6:09 AM
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Here is a picture of our little ones tootsies:
Heart contents by Maria at 9:29 AM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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.
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:
Heart contents by Maria at 5:06 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
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.
Heart contents by Maria at 6:30 PM
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.
Heart contents by Maria at 3:44 PM
Monday, May 26, 2008
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.
Heart contents by Maria at 1:53 PM
Heart contents by Maria at 7:44 AM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
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. :-)
Heart contents by Maria at 6:53 PM
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
Heart contents by Maria at 12:25 PM