Sunday, December 22, 2013

Visiting with my sister.

These past few days we have been in Grace's city (and surrounding cities), with the main part of our day being our visit with Grace.
We visit for a couple hours each morning the "soft room", a therapy type room missionaries have set up and use to visit the kids. There are a couple German volunteers in who also visit and love on kids in there, but the time we've spent with the other kids is for a different post.
Grace is: cute, hilarious, sassy, smart, adorable, clever, lovable, and sweet.
I've so enjoyed the time I've been able to spent with her (that ^ is my new favorite picture by the way!), and can't wait to bust her out of that stinky orphanage forever in a few hours!
After we bust her free today, we will be driving up to Kyiv tonight, and tomorrow we will do her medical and work on getting her visa. Lord willing, we will get her visa Tuesday, and fly home Wednesday, arriving home ON CHRISTMAS DAY!

On Tuesday we took Grace to get her passport picture taken. My mom blogged about how it went HERE.
But just for my blog readers, because you're special, here is a video!

Gotta go finish packing and getting ready for the big day! Stay tuned for pictures and videos!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My new hat.

Oh yes I did.
Part of my Christmas present.

But you know what's super funny? Being made fun of in a language you barely understand.

We were walking home from the market today and I was wearing my new hat. As we were passing them, a couple school girls (younger than me by a couple years) said something and burst into giggles. They said "hello little girl", and I also heard the word hat after we passed them. 

I was quite amused, but am still proud of and loving my new hat! :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That thing called Lyme.. and this trip.

So the number one thing people said to me before I left, after everyone found out I was coming, was: "So you're feeling better?"

And my answer was a resound YES, but I want to expand more on that.

So very sick:
The last time I really did a big update on how I was doing with my chronic Lyme disease was months ago on this blog when I first shared my Lyme story. Since then, it's just been a few random facebook updates and when people reached out to ask me.

I have gotten very sick, and have had several really good weeks. Like a roller coaster, always up and down. I have been through many natural treatments, have had MANY chiropractic appts,many other appts, and have completely changed my diet.

I dealt with symptoms ranging from brain fog, tics, twitching, dizziness, vision problems, never ending headaches, to extreme joint pain, extreme fatigue, chest pain, heart palpitations, nauseousness, abdominal pain, and a slew of other stuff.

I ended up with a bad UTI, several colds, and some other things that made me go down hill fast. My immune system is already shot, so I usually catch everything anyone else has which makes the symptoms I already have flare. And full moons are very bad too.

Starting to feel better: 
During this entire adoption process, we had talked about me going with mom for the second trip if my health improved. But as the time came closer and closer to traveling, I wasn't getting better. We got our travel date and mom said I wasn't going to come with for the second trip unless there was a miracle with my heath. And I fully agreed with her. I knew I wasn't doing well.

A week or so before they left I started a new treatment at a new doctor. And a day or two before they left I started to feel better. I had several very good days in a row which I was super happy about, but the good days didn't stop. I had a couple set backs, like a panic attack the night they left, which was likely from the stress, but otherwise was doing good.

The difference was night and day. Previously I would have been able to be on my feet and up and about for a couple hours on a good day. And then I would be exhausted for several days trying to recoup. In the days before my parents left and even after I had like 4 days in a row I was on my feet doing stuff all day long. Lots of time in the kitchen, lots of helping to get things ready for them to leave, etc. It was amazing.

I continued to do good with my energy levels. And other things improved, like neurological symptoms and nauseousness.

We decided I was well enough to go.

I am still praising God for starting to heal me, and continuing to do so! Yes, I think part of it was the new treatment, but most of it can be attributed to God and the prayers of His people on my behalf. I am so thankful!!!

Dealing with it here:
Despite being awake 52+ hours with 4 hours of plane "sleep" before I feel asleep my first night here, I didn't get sick, and just bounced back. Amazing. All the walking hasn't bothered me at all, nor have I gotten sick from the full moon.

About the food. When I mentioned above that I changed my diet, that means I went off all grains, all processed sugar, most processed foods, and a lot of dairy. I also have food sensitivities to a lot of foods including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, peanuts, most other nuts except almond flour, oranges, celery, apples, and carrots. (I'm only allergic per the allergist to ragweed and grass, but I still have sensitivities.)

So that takes out a lot of what there is to eat! I have been eating near Paleo diet, but with more eliminated. It's hard, but worth it for the difference it makes in how I feel. I've been trying to eat the same here, but have cheated a few times. It's easier when there is nothing in the apartment that I can't have (except Milka!), as mom is eating the same way with me. At Celentanos I always get Borsch and a chicken cheese veggie thing. lol

The other big thing that was a huge factor in if I was well enough to go was my sensitivity to smells, particularity cigarette smoke. A couple months ago I walked into the gas station, and there was someone standing outside the door smoking. I started coughing and gagging, which ended in respiratory problems, and took several minutes to recover from. And in Ukraine, everyone smokes everywhere. But like with everything else, that has gotten better too. I am still super sensitive to it, and the first to smell any trace of it, but it doesn't bother me or make me cough unless it's right in my face.

So I'm doing really well health wise! :) Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me!!!

Our MAF (most awesome facilitator) says that I got these nasty bugs in Ukraine last time, so I need to leave them here when I go home. I'm all for that! :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm in Ukraine and have a new sister!

I'm a worse blogger than my mother! :P But I'm back, and have so much to share!

First things first and this deserves a post of it's own!

Short Version: I'm in Ukraine and have a new sister!
Long Version: On Nov 11th, my parents left for Ukraine. They got their referral to adopt Grace, and spent about 3 weeks visiting her while they waiting for their court paperwork to process. Then Dad came home for Thanksgiving week, and went back to be with mom the next week for court!
On Dec 5th, Grace Olena Birschbach became an orphan no longer, and became my sister!
Mom and Dad then came home for a week during the 10 day waiting period after court. On Saturday, my mom and I left to come back to finish up the paperwork, and bring Grace home!


Our flights were long of course, but okay. We were delayed 2 hours on our first flight, but we made the one out of Chicago because that one was an 1 hr late. We made up time in the air and made it to our gate in Germany with literally a few minutes to spare. Then on to Ukraine! Our MAF (most awesome facilitator) met us at the airport and we stayed with his and his beautiful wife last night (it's Monday morning here).

This morning, we have to go get papers to prove I don't have TB and can visit the orphanage, and then this afternoon, we drive down to region. Tomorrow we start the paper chase and I meet Grace!!! We'll continue visiting her this week while we wait for the passport. And gotcha day will sometime later this week, over the weekend, or Monday. That's when we will bust her out of that stinky orphanage forever and ever!

Then we head back up to Kiev, to do the embassy and medical appts for her. And then we will go home right after Christmas.


When we were landing here, seeing the fields and Ukrainian looking city, the Russian on the signs and just seeing Ukrainian land again... the feeling was indescribable. At that moment it sunk in finally that I was back in Ukraine. In Ukraine.

When I left Ukraine 3.5 yrs ago, I assumed I would be back the next summer. I wanted to come back before I left. I had fallen in love with this country. Had I known it would be that long of longing to come back, I would have had to be dragged onto the plane.

When we landed, I was fighting back tears. That amazing feeling, can be summed up as my heart was finally home. There was a similar feeling when I went back to KS and NY the second time, but nothing like this. An overwhelming emotion. Home.

As I sit here drinking Ukrainian juice, I love it. The simplicity of everything, the soviet looking building and streets, the crazy driving, the juice, the borscht, the apartment building, not bring able to brush my teeth with the faucet water, hearing Russian everywhere. I love it all, I'm home.


Also, I landed on the 15th. Dec 15th. You know how I love the 15th of every month. Last Dec I was in Kansas, the year before on the 15th I found out Logan wasn't available. This year, I'm back in Ukraine! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 for 21 - Day 29

Yup, I failed at getting back on track. We'll rock the last the last three days though! :)

Today's waiting-child-soon-to-be-no-longer-waiting is JIMMY!

You can follow his family's journey here on their blog - Bringing Home Asher

Today's waiting child is handsome Duane!
Mr. Duane has Down syndrome and is available for adoption. He is in the same place as Maria and Sutter!
He's described as loving and huggable, and need a mama who will give him all the love he wants and then some!

And today's child who is stuck in Russia, Allen.
Over the years we have watched him grow up in pictures.

But he doesn't do much growing, he just looks sicker and sicker.
Please pray the ban will be lifted and a family can get to him before it's too late.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

31 for 21 - Day 20

So I missed a few days due to being busy, sick, and tired. But, I'm back on track and will finish strong!


Before I get to today's two kids, I want to share about the craft sale Rachel and I did yesterday!
It was a large indoor (yay!) sale at a local school. One of those big ones you have to pay to get into. After a rough start with set up, we did so well, and ended the day with record sales!! We raised $374!! An all time sale record! God is soo good!!


This is beautiful Lanaya! She is 3 years old, has Down syndrome, a heart condition, and described as sweet and friendly.
She loves music, gets along well with other children, and plays with toys appropiately. She doesn't have any words or feed herself yet, but she can stand holding onto something.
She sounds like a sweet love bug who would do great in a family!!


And this is Aisha. Another beautiful girl with a beautiful name. But she is stuck in Russia, because of the adoption ban.

Please pray for her!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dancing with Jesus.

He was less than a year younger than me. He passed away without knowing the love of a family.
My heart is broken and the tears won't stop. His picture grabbed at my heart awhile back but I never advocated for him.

Because while we celebrate that he is pain free and with Jesus now, he still died without ever knowing the love of a family. Something every child should know.

I sometimes feel like I'm doing a lot for orphans, but it's never enough. There's always more I could do.

These child can't advocate for themselves. They can't raise money for their grants. They don't know how to pray. We can though.

And since they can't take care of themselves, we need to be a defender of the orphan, strength for the weak, and a voice for the voiceless.

My resolve to fight this battle is stronger, and I will not let his death be in vain.
Dance with Jesus sweet Ryker! We will fight harder so others don't have to go through what you did.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 for 21 - Day 15

Today, meet two girls who have very similar names. Angelia and Angelina.

Both have Down syndrome. Both are (most likely) in mental institutions, and both need families.

But only one of them is able to be adopted. The other is stuck in a country that has closed it's borders to American adoption.

This is Angelia, who is able to be adopted.

And this is Angelina, who is stuck.

Please pray for them both!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 for 21 - 2 years later.

I posted the following post two years ago this month.... when I originally posted it, all the kids were waiting. When I reposted it last year, I updated on who had a family and who didn't. This year I am going to re-update it!

The pictures from the original post are put with the Down Syndrome Creed, a poem that is so very beauitufl and inspiring.

My face may be different
Jimmy - Still waiting, has a family working to commit to him.
But my feelings the same
Tabitha - Had a family working to get her before Russia shut down.
I laugh and I cry
Mark - still waiting.
And I take pride in my gains
Brigita - HOME!
I was sent here among you
Rebekah - Stuck in Russia
To teach you to love
Lilly - Had a family ready to commit to her before Russia shutdown.
As God in the heavens
Lizzy - Had a mama working to get her before Russia shutdown. 
Looks down from above
Ilya - Stuck in Russia.
To Him I'm no different
Maxim - HOME!
His love knows no bounds
Lyla - HOME!!!
It's those here among you
Dennis - Has a family working to bring him home!
In cities and towns
Timofey - Stuck in Russia.
That judge me by standards
Robert - HOME!
That man has imparted
Chandler - HOME!
But this family I've chosen
Tory - Stuck in Russia.
Will help me get started
Orion - HOME!
For I'm one of the children
Jonathan - Stuck in Russia.
So special and few
Meredith - her family is working to get her!
That came here to learn
Lucy - HOME!
The same lessons as you
Artem K - Had a family working to get him before Russia closed.
That love is acceptance
Vika - Status unknown. She's most likely stuck in Russia.
It must come from the heart
Tanya - Stuck in Russia.
We all have the same purpose
Nadine - HOME with her family - adopted domestically.
Though not the same start
Alice - HOME! (Look at her new picture here!)
The Lord gave me life
Margurete - HOME!
To live and embrace
Cyril K - Stuck in Russia.
And I'll do it as you do
Bobby - Still waiting.
But at my own pace
Robyn - Stuck in Russia.
(Down Syndrome Creed)


So there we are. 

Out of the 28 children in that post...
-10 are HOME!
-3 have families working to get them!
-2 children are still available and waiting for a family - Mark and Bobby.

-And 13 children are still stuck in Russia. Keep praying for them!
Tabitha, Rebekah, Lilly, Lizzy, Ilya, Timofey, Tori, Jonathan, Artem, Vika, Tanya, Cyril K, and Robyn.