April 17, 2013

Ugh

Posted in Creative Writing, Just Life, Poetry tagged at 9:02 pm by catsinboxes

Bleak skies, cold and gray,

Bleak inside, day by day,

Seems a mockery to say

That spring is here, here to stay.

Colds and coughs and aching throats,

Listless children, winter coats,

Well-cooked meals, no appetites,

And spring is here?  Yeah right!

Retching children, sheets to clean,

Endless laundry in between,

Rain and snow, sleet and rain,

Yes, I do mean to complain!

Bleak skies, cold and gray,

Bleak inside, day by day,

Wind and snow, coming this way,

Spring is here?  Ugh, I say!

April 7, 2013

Ukraine: What Did I Know?

Posted in Adoption, Blogging, Faith, Japan, Just Life, Korea, Ukraine at 5:41 pm by catsinboxes

Disclaimer: This is more of a personal post than a list of facts.  For those of you interested in size, population, geopolitical status, and other such information, this will not satisfy you, but I hope to write a post more to your liking in the near future!  

As I got ready to leave for Ukraine, I considered writing a blog post about what I knew -so far- about Ukraine.  It didn’t happen; time and creativity did not meet while waiting for my flight to Kiev at Chicago O’Hare.  Once in Ukraine, there was so much to write about, so much to learn, no time for writing THAT kind of post.  Now that I am home and have had some time for reflection, I am glad I waited.  It is so neat to see how God has been preparing my heart and working in and through my trip to Ukraine.  So, let me tell you, what I did know about Ukraine.

 

3 Years Ago

Ukraine was part of Eastern Europe, I knew that much!  I was too busy getting ready for a trip to Korea to think about Ukraine.  Korea was another trip that had fallen into place, not as quickly as Ukraine, but it was a country that God had given me an excitement and curiosity about, the details had come together, and I was going to Korea!  Ukraine?  No, I wasn’t thinking about Ukraine.

 2 Years Ago

I had been home less than a month from Japan.  My head was too full of Japan and uncertainty to think about traveling anywhere besides back to Japan to resume an internship that had been cut short by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.  It was a time of uncertainty, so many questions as to what lay in my near future.  Would I go back to Japan?  Would I stay in the States? What would I do during the summer?  Thinking back, there were so many questions and tears, but God was at work.  He taught me patience.  He taught me to rely on His plan, a plan that would not include a return to Japan.  His plan would involve becoming a member of a wonderful church.  So life continued, summer passed, autumn came -and went- and then winter came.  And at about that time, I started to hear about a ministry, a ministry called Reece’s Rainbow which advocated for the international adoption of children with special needs, particularly Down Syndrome.  My mom had visited their website before, and as winter progressed, she did so with increasing regularity.  So I started to hear about children, a number of whom lived in Eastern Europe and Russia.

1 Year Ago

Ukraine?  Oh, I knew about Ukraine!  I had read blogs about Ukrainian adoption, I was praying for Ukrainian orphans, I had started to learn statistics and facts about the Ukrainian orphan crisis.  On March 6, I did my first blog post mentioning Ukraine.

Ukraine had separated itself from the blur of Eastern Europe.  I did have foggy recollections of what I had known about Ukraine, the Orange Revolution of 2004 was slightly familiar as were the faces of Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, but I only knew faces, I couldn’t have told you their names!  Who I could name was every child available for adoption and listed on Reece’s Rainbow in one Ukrainian orphanage.  I prayed for them, wished we could add someone to our family, wished I could do more!

And so spring passed, and days grew warmer.  I was still involved in our wonderful church, at that point serving as an interim small group leader in our youth group.  At one youth group, as an icebreaker, we were asked the question, “If you could do anything and go anywhere in the world for one day, what would you do?”   I knew my answer right away, and I almost felt guilty for having such a kitsch answer, but I knew it was true.  If I had one day, I’d go to Ukraine and visit an orphanage; I’d spend a day with the children.  That is what I would do!  (Wait, why not Korea or Japan?  I knew I needed way more than one day in each of those countries, and a trip to either was doable, while this, on the other hand, was a dream.)

Was this something that I developed of my own volition?  I truly believe God was behind it.  He is the one who gave me a heart for orphans over a decade ago.  He is the one who began to stir this love and awaken a desire to learn more and to help orphans, especially those in Eastern Europe . . . particularly those in Ukraine.

In the past year, I read more.  Pieces and facts about Ukraine began to fit together.  Chernobyl happened before my generation and I hadn’t known about it, not until following March 11 as BBC and other newspapers began ranking the situation at Fukishima with other nuclear disasters, the worst of which -to my recollections- was Chernobyl.  I’m embarrassed to admit that as I learned about Ukraine I had two light-bulb moments.

First, connecting Chernobyl with Ukraine -I had thought it was southern Russia.  (Granted, it  was USSR, but we won’t go there right now!)  Then as I learned my Ukrainian geography, came the other realization.  Wait a minute, Crimea is in Ukraine???  That’s where the Crimean War was, all those times I was reading about Florence Nightingale, the whole war was taking place in Ukraine!!!

I learned even more about Ukraine late last year, when my family become involved with New Horizons for Children, a Christian orphan hosting program.  While we hosted two boys from Latvia, many orphans in the program came from Ukraine.  So, I pieced together more, including the reoccurring fact that Ukraine had roads in need of a lot of repair!

Yes, the roads do need work!

I also learned sobering facts: statistics of what happens after orphans age out of the system, the bleak future that any orphan faces, the realities of life after the orphanage.

Early this year, when we decided to host again through New Horizons, Ukraine became more personal because Pasha was from Ukraine.

We will be hosting Pasha this summer; I can’t wait to meet him in person!

I was learning all the time, small facts, more than I could write here.     Some people speak Russian.  The trains can be bad.  The chocolate is good.  People don’t smile at strangers.  There are mountains in western Ukraine.  There are coal mines in eastern Ukraine.  The number of flowers you give someone is very important. . . . Little things, but they were adding up!

Then came the opportunity and at first the uncertainty.  I might be going!  It was so exciting, it was unbelievable, but I didn’t want to get too excited.  Then it was definite, the tickets were booked, it was actually going to happen!  The suitcase was packed, a phrasebook purchased, and a small travel guide downloaded.  Then, less than 48 hours after learning of the opportunity, I was on a plane, headed for Ukraine!  On my last flight of the day, sitting in a window seat on Ukrainian Airlines, surrounded by a lot of people speaking more Ukrainian and/or Russian that I had EVER heard before, I quickly read through my travel guide.

What did I know about Ukraine?  When it came to adoption, quite a lot.  When it came to other things, not that much.  But I learned so much on my trip, and I do not intend to stop learning anytime soon.

Soli Deo Gloria

April 4, 2013

Morning Laugh

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:49 am by catsinboxes

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April 3, 2013

The Sound of Silence -Not Really

Posted in Blogging, Just Life, Ukraine at 1:49 pm by catsinboxes

Yes, I did arrive home from Ukraine. Normal life has returned, almost. Last weekend our basement decided to flood, so everyone (including yours truly) who sleeps downstairs had to relocate. Carpeting has been removed, and right now we have a professional restoration service in the process of drying out every bit of downstairs. The damage could have been much worse, and life is going well, but there definitely is a bit of disarray. Any time I have to get something from my room, I must enter the airlock area, navigate past different fans and dehumidifiers, and then sort through the jumble of moved furniture within my bedroom. On a final note, there is also a substantial amount of noise; think industrial fans in a dairy barn . . .

Realizing all of the above, please understand why my posting has been sparse! I hope to be back and blogging consistently soon, but things need to quiet down here (literally!) before that happens.