‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Update from Kemerovo

It's soooooo good to see Anya. She has a new close friend, Ira ( Ivonka) and they have come to visit us every day. The housekeeper here at the gustinitza is being rude and told Anya she cannot sleep here, but we are going to try to have her stay for a night before we leave. I forgot how crazy things are in this part of the world!  Seeing everything through Kim & Bridget's eyes is reminding me how very different it is here.

Some things that I had forgotten that are pretty ridiculous: we are alloted one roll of TP for 4 people every three days. And these are Russian rolls of TP that last maybe a day for one person! So, of course, we went to the market to buy TP for our hotel room...lol. Our bed is a pullout couch from the Soviet Era. Not exaggerating. IT is old. It has never been used as a bed before. It is hard as a rock and the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on in 46 years...including all camping experiences. I didn't want to complain, but the first night I couldn't sleep at all, so I explained to the housekeeper about it and asked for a blanket to soften it, and she said no! So, back to the market to buy a comforter. Ah, Russia.

Aside from seeing Anya, the best part of the trip thus far was seeing my Shakespeare students yesterday. I love them so much. No, I ADORE THEM. I took Bridget and Kim to the school  (Nastia slept in) and Bridget was treated to a full tour of the school AND an impromptu question and answer session in an 8th grade English class! Bridget was soooo shy, it was adorable. But she did answer a few questions and quickly became the school celebrity! As we left the classroom, a group of 6th graders swarmed her, all bellowing "Hello! Hello!" and wanted photos with  'the American' and when she told them she had written her email address on the board in the 8th graders room, they all rushed in there to write it down! She already has at least one penpal:)

We then took all my students out for lunch at our old haunt, The Travellers Cafe. I had already decided I would use my work credit card to buy them a 'celebration dinner' as most of them are graduating this week.  (They are my Shakespeare students, after all!)  I'll post photos when I figure out how to move Kim's photos into my archives. I've never done that before.

On the orphanage front, things are in limbo, but I am refusing to give in to despair. Tomorrow, God willing, I will go with Svetlana before the Regional Director of Orphanges and request permission to visit. This delay is all due to one woman, who shall remain nameless here, to be safe. This woman decided, although it is her job, that she would refuse to issue us the invitation because  she is 'tired of all this work' and she 'shouldn't have to do it.' This is the woman who has held up our Host program for going on 8 months now. It is within her power to approve it, but she 'doesnt like the work involved'. So we wait and wait and wait. Can you believe there is such a heartless person in the world? Believe it...she is the one who issues all referrals for adoptions in Kemerovo, too. Maybe now you understand why adoptions in this region are nearly at a stand still these past few years.

Well, just keep praying. The Orphanage Director and all the kids are so disappointed we are not there today as planned.  But we're going to figure this out. I didnt come 6,000 miles with 450 lbs of gifts to be turned away. I hand it all over to God, who has a FAR better perspective than I do. He will do what He deems best.  More in a few hours, with photos!

Please comment while I'm here. It motivates me to post when I know there are readers. Otherwise, exhaustion makes me too lazy! Comments please!


  1. Hopefully the Regional Director will fix the problem for you. Sometimes it's all about talking to the right person at the right time, with a lot of prayer to help make that happen.

  2. Oh, we're reading all right! Eating up every word. Say hello to Anya from "hoonew" in Illinois!

  3. I'm thinking of you lots and lots. Praying, too. Jake and I just read every word and look forward to the next installment. God's blessings on the woman who is holding up the process--she needs help. She must be in a great deal of internal pain to behave that way. "The American" Bridget better look forward to a ton of email! How sweet.

  4. You are LOVED beyond measure. Praying for a change of heart in Russia.

  5. Unfortunately, I have no trouble believing ANY of it. But I know that God is bigger.

  6. heading to church this morning and will pray for the way to be made tomorrow for you. i love bridget's adventures. so glad you had some quality time with the shakespeare students!

    had a dream with you in it last night and you were yelling at me. maybe i'm feeling your anger about your situation and this was a cosmic let-out for your frustrations. woke up not feeling sad but ... "accomplished" for some reason. it was a weird feeling. maybe it's a good omen.

    hang in there.

  7. Hearing you can't get the invitation and the toilet paper brings back the sick feeling in my stomach that I sometimes would get during my 3 Russian adoptions. So sorry you are having trouble. The invitation woman wants a bribe. I am sure I don't need to tell you that. I just read the most wonderful book that really made me think of you. It is called Winter Garden and is about a woman from St Petersburg, then leningrad who escaped during the seige in world war 2 and how it effects the rest of her life and her family. I won't say more but it is wonderful. You would love it. Please keep the posts coming!

  8. (just for you). Don't we know a young woman who could very much use a job, who could certainly do that job as poorly as this woman? Hell, Anya may not be the most perfect employee yet, but she could certainly replace THIS sorry excuse for a gatekeeper. Trying to remember that she is still a human. Hopefully Stevla will have some insight into how this woman works and thinks, and you'll have a moment of divine enlightenment. You could always say to the Regional Director, "Well then, if we can not deliver these gifts to the children, will you please?" Let THEM bring the 450 lbs. and distribute them.

    Watching Oprah yesterday (you know...), and she talked about how when she was trying to get the role in The Color Purple and she was thwarted. Her prayer was, "I don't understand why you're doing this, but YOU must know." and "Please help me to surrender all of this resentment, that someone else can do it." It was the surrendering part that appeared to be necessary. I know you surrender like the best of them, Keri. I can hardly stand it. But it's all I've got, from a lazy day of doing nothing but watching Oprah.

    Love you. Hello to Nastia and The Americans!

  9. Hell! I'll pay the bribe! pay what you need and send me the bill. (And here I was all about surrender.... LOLOL)

  10. Anonymous8:28 AM

    I'm here just hoping/praying that this woman sees the good you're doing! The TP thing reminds me of working in the slums of Tijuana, we had similar restrictions.

    Give Anya a big hug from California and tell her that lots of people are thinking of her on a daily basis!

    Hugs to you all!

  11. Keri, if you have to pay her a bribe, then post what it was. I'm sure donations will follow to cover it. Good luck!

  12. Keri,
    we too have met this person your talking about. I really don't understand why she would feel this way. You bring happiness to these children and that is all that matters. I pray God will open this women's heart and that you get your approval tommorow.

  13. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Still in Turkey and still surrounded by Russians and Ukrainians. Wondering what I can do to help. You´re in my thoughts.

  14. Love. Only love- And hopefully that will be enough to soften this woman's heart.

  15. I'm reading! I'd also chip in to pay for your "entrance fee" to the orphanage. Sending warm thoughts from California to all of you...

  16. praying for you all and will continue to follow and pray - hope to be of some help if I can as well.


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