James is back at the keyboard this evening.
Before describing our day today, I wanted to address a couple of questions that were asked in comments on our blog posts. The first question is what do we have left to do? Well, this is a rather complicated process. As I understand it, we are now gathering documents. Tomorrow, we meet with the Director of the orphanage where K and B are during the school year. After that meeting, we should be able to gather the final documents to submit to the government agency in Kiev. That agency then processes the documents. We are told that can take up to ten days. After document processing, we can request a court date for the official decision by the judge. We have no idea how long that will take. After the court is completed, we have a mandatory ten day wait period before the decision is final. After the wait period ends, K and B are our children by Ukrainian law. We then have to get passports, visas, and medical paperwork done before we can return home. So, there is still a long road ahead.
The second question is how long do we have left to stay? After reading the previous answer, it should be understandable when the answer to this question is that we simply do not know and will not have any good idea until we have a court date. We are praying for the process to go as quickly as possible but will be patient with whatever happens.
So, on to today's events. We got started this morning a little later and did some shopping before heading out to see K and B. One of the items that K asked for was shoes. Mary just about went crazy in the shoe store. I can tell that she is super excited about having a daughter! Too much fun. We also bought a few other clothing items and some apples as a treat. Our facilitator, Natasha, returned from Kiev this morning so we stopped by to pick her up and then it was then off to the summer camp.
K was waiting for us by the gates when we arrived and came right up to give us big hugs! We walked with her back to their dormitory where we met B and got more big hugs. B's hands were very dirty because he had been picking and shelling walnuts. It was very interesting to see how that process puts some dark brown stains on your hands.
Something rather interesting about the apples. It turns out that today is one of the Orthodox holidays. The tradition that they have on this particular holiday is that the priest blesses apples that are then eaten. We did not know about the tradition but it was fun to learn about it. A priest came to the camp to preach a sermon about Christ and then bless the children and baskets of apples that they were holding with Holy Water. It was very interesting to see that part of the culture here and see some of the traditions. K and B shared their blessed apples with us after the ceremony and we settled in to chat and play some games. We played UNO and Speed with Mary usually winning and the rest of us winning by turn when Mary was not playing. It was just a really nice visit and we fell that our connection with K and B really grew today. It was sad to leave but we are looking forward to another visit tomorrow.
This evening we enjoyed two experiences in Nikolaev. First, we went to the church here in Nikolaev to help the missionaries with some English language lessons and Gospel discussions. We had a really nice group and Mary really enjoyed an experience where she understood what was being said instead of having to wait for translation. Mary's courage in this journey is simply amazing!
Our second experience was with a great couple from Florida that are adopting three children. We met them at the summer camp a couple of days ago and had an opportunity to go to dinner with them tonight. They had their court date yesterday and it went very well. They should be able to return home to Florida with their kids in a couple of weeks. We are very excited and happy for them. It was great to chat and share experiences.
So, that wraps up the events of today. We are very grateful for all of the prayers and support from friends and family. Thank you!