Friday, April 29, 2011

6 weeks late . . . oops!

A pictorial essay of Artyr's first 6.5 weeks in America

Artyr and Papa shortly after landing in America

Artyr enjoying our metro ride at the airport.  When riding the subway in
Ukraine, it was very quiet, and no one spoke to each other.  In America,
it was very loud and everyone spoke with everyone.  He probably thought
all Americans were crazy at this point! 

Artyr's "Welcome Home" cake , , , made by Mommy

On Sunday, all of the children who have been recently adopted
came to visit Artyr and here they are with each other and with all
of their new brothers and sisters.  Praise God!
Artyr came to visit the Bloomsburg University chapter of
Play by Faith with Papa.  The students welcomed him to
America with a brand new orange soccer ball!
After receiving the soccer ball from the Play by Faith kids,
we needed to toughen Artyr up a bit; so, he tried on Papa's
Penn State uniform . . . he seems a little tougher already!
(soccer fans, please accept our apologies)
Artyr enjoys spending time with Mama as she reads to
all THREE of our children!

Artyr came along to a Wild Game Banquet that Joe was asked
to speak at in March.  Artyr was the photographer for the evening.
Here, he took a break from taking his 200 photos to get one taken of himself!

Here are Artyr and Papa after the banquet
Artyr attended our church's Men's Retreat at the beginning of
April.  Here, he is goofing around with one of his friends
from youth group, Jordan!
Artyr was able to climb the rock wall at Woodward Camp
(where we held our retreat) . . .
This is a smaller wall that didn't require him to be tied in.
Artyr hanging out with his youth pastor, Mike Durn (left)
and our former pastor, Doug Williams.
We had the opportunity to go roller skating with Anna, Anslee,
Erik, Lena, and Vika as well as Russie and the rest of he and Cheri's
children a couple of weeks ago.  It was a great time and a nice
way to spend a Friday evening with family and friends!
Erik, Artyr, and Bubba relaxing in between skating
Mama and Jordyn posing for a picture while roller skating
One of Artyr's Easter presents . . . he was so excited!

Helping his little sister, Grace, make a basket!

Helping Jordyn, too . . . what a great big brother!
Sometimes, dads have to show their sons that the "old man" still has it . . .
("it" in this case being the ability to dunk on an 8 ft. rim . . .
for those of you who don't know, a normal rim is 10 ft. off the ground).

Our beautiful children (after a hard day of playing)
We had the chance to go watch Dema run in a track meet at
State College High School.  Do you think they look happy?

Thank you all so much for all of your prayers!  We would appreciate your continued prayers as we continue the transition process.  We have been so blessed by what God has done in our lives!  Praise God! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coming Home!

Here is a picture of Artyr taken just before they left the apartment in Kiev.  Doesn't he look handsome?  Maybe I'm just a proud Mama, but I think he looks absolutely wonderful!  His contagious smile seems to never leave his face.  I didn't ask Joe, but it seems that Artyr doesn't mind getting up early.    I guess when you are on your way to a brand new life...  getting up isn't as difficult!   Even though our adoption adventure seems to be drawing to a close, both Joe and I know that the journey is really only beginning.  We know that we have an awesome opportunity to grow closer to God (individually and as a family) through Artyr's adoption.  We will need to rely on Him as we learn to function as a family of 5!   We are soooo ready to get started!!!  The "boys" are hopefully boarding the plane, so please pray for traveling mercies.  After the long flight, they will drive from NYC to State College.  We will update when they arrive home...  Artyr's forever home.  Wow!   Praise God for His amazing plan!  Thanks so much!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Still Rejoicing . . .

because Artyr's passport will arrive tomorrow morning and we will leave Ukraine at 8:05 AM on Saturday morning!!!  Thank you for your PRAYers.  Although it's not as we originally intended or planned, we are sure that God has been and is still in control of ALL of our circumstances.  Even if His purpose was only for us to spend the last two days with the Gurleys from Georgia (who are adopting Vika and Sly from another orphanage), it was well worth it.  We have enjoyed catching up with Mike and LeeAnn (whom we haven't seen since camp in August), as you can see in some of the last pictures below.  Whatever God's reasoning, we are, Lord willing, out of here on Saturday, and we will arrive back home sometime early Sunday morning.  Artyr doesn't know, yet, but we've invited all of his friends that have already been adopted to come over on Sunday afternoon to visit him.  He just keeps saying over and over how much he misses Mama and Gracie and Jordyn and Grandma(s) and Grandpa(s) and Dima and Erik and Lena and Ana and Vika and Anslee and Vika and Dema and Russell and Lori and Russell and Cheri and Dusty and Tina and Mick and Janel and Eric and Cindy.  It will be so great if all of them can be there on Sunday to officially welcome him!  Here are some pictures from our last couple of days, including our trip from Krivoy Rog here to Kiev.  Enjoy!

Here I am giving Artyr his first lesson in shaving

We figured out a better and less expensive way to adopt children
Here's our cabin on the train . . . can you feel the heat, yet?
Artyr with his lovely present from the Canadian missionary
team that works in the orphanages in Krivoy.  Thank you
soooooooooooooo much, Adam and Curtis and team!
Artyr eating some "very good (his words, not ours)"
dried calamari on the train
Tim's face . . .
 . . . because Artyr kept doing this for most of the trip to Kiev
The mall that we have walked to every day since being here
in Kiev (about 1.5 miles from our apartment).
It's called "Dream Town", and it's as big as Noah's Ark!
I saw this picture at the mall and thought that Ginger should
get something like this (mostly because I secretly want a face
tattoo) . . . what do you think, sweetheart?
After dinner one evening, we decided to try our hand at
curling . . . we are somewhat embarrassed to admit that
it was really a lot of fun!
On our second trip to the mall, Tim noticed this statue.
The orginal statue is in the Louvre in Paris,
but this was a nice replica.  It is called the
Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Tim's family's roots
come from the Greek Island of Samothrace.  Tim
actually has this statue tattooed on his left arm, also! 

On Tuesday, we headed on the world's deepest subway system
(from what we're told) to Independence Square . . .
 . . . where we saw break dancers . . .
. . . a pretty awesome angel statue (and many other cool statues) . . .

. . .  a round shopping mall that we almost got thrown out of
after taking this picture (because apparently taking photos inside
round malls is not allowed in Ukraine . . . haha) . . .

 . . . we also saw a cat and Bart Simpson . . .

. . . who, after posing for a couple pictures, expected us to pay
 them 150 grivna . . . we gave them 4, then wished them a good day!

On Wednesday, we met up with the Gurleys and had an
AWESOME dinner at T.G.I.Fridays here in Kiev!
We met up with the Gurleys again on Thursday afternoon
and showed them how to get to Dream Town . . . while there,
we visited the arcade . . . I forget who had the high score in
this game with a 104 (hint . . . it was me!)

I was teaching Artyr how to defend the family against an
attack of zombie aliens here . . . very practical stuff!
Artyr was trying on a shoe in the Puma store
We added this for Ginger . . . this is what happens when three
boys live together for a couple of days!  Oy yoy yoy!
Artyr getting a haircut from LeeAnn . . . Before . . .
. . .  During . . .

Well . . . you'll see the "After" soon enough, because we're coming home!!! Praise the Lord!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


"Rejoice in the Lord . . . " - Philippians 4:4

PRAISE God that the paperwork from Ginger made it halfway around the world in 1.5 days!  Thank you so much for your prayers concerning this matter.

Oh, I forgot the rest of the verse

". . .  ALWAYS . . . "

Artyr's passport did not arrive today.  We do not know if it will arrive tomorrow or Friday at this point.  If it arrives tomorrow, there is a slight possibility for us to still leave on Friday at a later time, we believe (but we would have to change airlines, foregoing our original tickets and buying completely new ones).  If it comes on Friday, we will be here until at least Monday (which requires paying change fees and difference in fare fees plus additional living expenses for the weekend).  Please PRAY that in some way God would let it work out that we could still leave on Friday at our original time.  We know that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), and if He chooses to make it work out for us to leave on Friday, then we will.  If He chooses for us to stay here longer and pay obscene amounts of money to change our flights, then we will :).  We don't know always get to choose the things God allows into our lives, but He tells us in the rest of the verse:

"... AGAIN, I say rejoice."

And so, we rejoice!  We give Him PRAISE, not because we want to spend more time here away from our family and friends and not because we want to spend more money and not because we like our circumstances.  We PRAISE Him because we have seen Him work in our lives and in the lives of others (first hand and throughout the Bible) in the midst of dark circumstances to bring about results that we could never have imagined (see Ephesians 3:20-21).  We ask that you would please PRAY for some sort of divine intervention to get us home on time, and/or that we would be content if God brings us home in His time!  He is in control, and He is good . . . all the time.  And so all the time, We will rejoice!  We love you.  Thank you for praying!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prayer Request

Hello Everyone!  We have a quick prayer request before we're off to bed.  There seems to have been some oversight of a couple of pieces of VERY important paperwork that needs to be filed with the US Embassy here in Kiev.  By "VERY important" I mean that if it's not here and in turned in to the US Embassy on Thursday, we won't go home until next week.  Ginger has sent the documents via DHL and they are scheduled to arrive on Thursday.  Please PRAY that there are no delays and that they get to the Embassy in due time.  Please also continue to PRAY for Artyr's passport to arrive on Wednesday.  Thank you so much, Everyone, for your prayers!   I'll try to update tomorrow on our departure from Krivoy Rog and our first day back in Kiev.  Have a God night!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Picture is Worth . . .

 . . . well, you know the saying.  Here's 45,000 words worth (+/- the words used in the captions) to describe our last several days!

Olya and Rusa after receiving a special gift!
Andre with his gift from his future family
Olya with the Popova sisters, Nastya and Anya -
big smiles all around thanks to the Shawleys!

Vola, Irra, and Nastya with Joe and some funny
glasses the girls brought to play with
Irra, Joe, Artyr, and "Unky" Tim - even Artyr is now saying "Unky"
Artyr, Vola, and Unky practicing their math skills
(Mommy would be so proud)
Anya with Joe's sunglasses

Alona's turn to wear the sunglasses -
please follow this link to find out more about these special young ladies
On Thursday, we headed for our 2 hour car "experience" (kind of like an
amusement park ride) to Dnepropetrosvk . . . there was lots of room left
over in the back seat, as you can tell (How Russ, Lori, Erik, and Lena
or Russie, Cheri, Anslee, and Vika ever fit back there is beyond me). 

After applying for Artyr's passport, we headed to the mall in Dnepro
(much easier to type and say) for some lunch
Started off with an amazing leaf salad (VERY hard to find in Ukraine)
followed by some filet mignon (or as my brother Rob
used to call it "Fillet Morgan")
Then Artyr's dessert that we took a picture of for Mama back home
(poor Ginger missed out on all the good food this trip
. . . maybe next time, Sweetheart!)
Artyr showing Mama how good it was (our driver, Andre,
in the background,  thinks this is funny)
After lunch, we needed to work off our calories with a stop
at the video arcade (shooting dinosaurs really gets you sweating)

Then we headed for a race car game . . . I'll let you guess
who won the race (hint, I even beat the professional driver, Andre)
When we got back to Krivoy Rog, we headed to the orphanage
for the traditional tea with the Director. 
Here was a toast for Artyr (with our sparkling water)!
Here was another toast from our arms (again with our sparkling water,
and Artyr's Green Tea, which he almost spilled everywhere,
because he was laughing so hard)

One last picture with the Director of the orphanage!
On Friday, we arrived just in time to witness a
celebration involving a straw figure . . .
THAT THEY SET ON FIRE!!!  We later learned (on Saturday)
that this was the Ukrainian way of saying goodbye to winter
(a simple wave of the hand would probably have sufficed).

After the celebration, we headed inside to the boys group room for a party
with Artyr's group.  We brought 15 pizzas (every last piece eaten), 2 cakes
(only one small sliver left), and 5 two liters of juice (4.5 drank).  These
boys know how to eat . . .
and that is corn on the pizza, in case you were wondering!
One of the cakes (again, sorry Ginger!)

The other cake (Tim and I didn't even have any . . . the boys ate so much!)
Artyr's oldest brother, Евгения (pronounced Zhenna),
stopped by for the party to say"goodbye" to Artyr.
He is 26 and grew up in the orphanage with Artyr.
A picture of Tim and I with Artyr's group, his teachers, and his brother

Artyr's teacher, Angelina, with a camera that we gave to the group
to use on the many outings that Angelina takes them on
Another of Artyr's teachers with a tea kettle for the group
After dinner and the gifts, we all skyped Mama, Grace, and Jordyn
Then it was over to say "goodbye" to the girls . . .
. . . who decided to dance a little for the camera . . .
. . . and share their nice hat with me!
Then we went to the younger girls' group to give hugs
(and chocolate, of course)

One last picture with Artyr's dance instructor, Anya, and Tola (l) and Ilia (r)

The boys came out to the car to see us off (and pose for another picture)
This morning (Saturday), we woke up (with Artyr in the apartment,
by the way . . . wooo hooo) to a minor accident out front of our
apartment.  This was a picture taken about 1.5 hours later with the cars
in the same spots blocking the road and the police measuring the distance
between the cars, the cars and the curb, the cars and the trees, etc . . .
All this for a broken headlight on one of the cars!
After all the excitement, we decided to head to a restaurant called
"New York Street Pizza".  This is what Tim, who grew up in New York City,
thinks of their interpretation of New York Pizza.
After lunch we headed to the HUGE Orthodox church in the center
of Krivoy.  Here's a picture of Artyr and me in front of the church.

Inside the front doors of the church.

Sunlight coming through the stained glass windows
Tim and the lady who proposed to both he and I . . . and by
"proposed", I mean offered to be our wife.  We said, "No" . . .
breathe a sigh of relief Ginger and Mrs. Argiriaidi!

Tim putting on a genuine pair of Canadian slippers . . .
yes, I said, "Canadian". . . we went to the apartment of
several Canadian missionaries who serve God here
in the orphanages in Krivoy to meet . . .
Artyr's other brother, Roma, to say "goodbye" to him.  It was
really a pleasure to meet both of Artyr's brothers, and for him
to have this time with them.  Roma is 19 and also grew up in the
orphanage.  Please PRAY for both he and Zhenna!

Lastly, I have several prayer requests to share.  First, please PRAY for Artyr's passport to come in on Wednesday.  There is a slight possibility that it will come back on Thursday.  If this happens, we will be stuck in Ukraine until the next week instead of leaving Kiev on March 11th.  Speaking of Kiev, we are leaving on Sunday night by train (YAY!) to travel back to Kiev to complete our final steps before heading home.  We would REALLY like to get home as soon as possible, so please PRAY with us that God would allow everything to happen in His timing.  Also, please PRAY for Mike and LeAnn Gurley as they travel from Georgia to Ukraine beginning on Monday for the first leg in their adoption journey.  We should be able to spend some time with them in Kiev while we are there.  Artyr is really looking forward to that time (as am I).  Also, please PRAY for little Andre, that God would sustain him and hold him up until his future parents are able to come (Lord willing, in May, we believe).   Thank you so much for your prayers and for following along on our journey!  Have a God day!