Thursday, February 26, 2009

Still waiting...

Just wanted to update those who are still watching our blog and waiting to find out what is going on with our "on hold" adoption status. Our facilitator contacted us Thursday morning to let us know that he is still waiting on the judge to make up her mind on when we can have court. The judge was slated to let him know on Monday, February 23 about a scheduled court date near March 12. He went in on Monday, and she basically said "come back tomorrrrrow". Well, 3 tomorrow's later, she told him that she has not had time to review our case, and he needed to come back on Monday, March 2 to get a firm court date. Our facilitator has had someone that works with the judge to talk with her, another judge at the same court house to talk with her, and he himself has spoken again with her. She told all 3 people the same thing. She said she has lots of cases and has been too busy to look at our case. So...

In the meantime, we wait and we pray, we love on our kids here in Birmingham, we try to engage the tasks required of us on this side of the world, and we think often of our kids waiting on the other side . We look forward to hearing of a court date so that we can continue toward the goal of having 3 new children home.

"Faithful is He who calls you and He will also bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us."
1 Thessalonians 5:24-25

Friday, February 20, 2009

To be continued...

After thinking that we would get news of a court date for next week, we found out at mid -day that the judge will not schedule our court until March 12th. With this news, we prayerfully believe we need to come home tomorrow morning on our original ticket schedule. We have discussed this with our future children and they understand and know that we will be returning to bring them home soon. This much time before a court date (3 weeks) is not a feasible wait period for us to remain in Ukraine.

Be praying for our trip home, for the children here who will be patiently waiting, and for wisdom in completing this process in the days ahead. Pray that He makes disciples of all nations through this and brings glory to Himself. Thanks for following along with us in this phase of the journey. We look forward to telling the story of the conclusion soon. Thanks for praying for us along the way.

Daniel 2:22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him”


Thursday, February 19, 2009

On hold

For those of you in "60 something" degree Alabama, just be reminded that winter is still alive and well in Ukraine. Yesterday was a full day of falling white powder, and evidently the night hours brought more of it...about 4 inches more of it. Today- a walk to anywhere is a sort of treacherous adventure, however, Kole loves it and it looks good to cover the muddy slush with a new blanket of white.

This morning we waited on our facilitator as he met with the inspector and the court representative. We have been and will continue to pray for speedy results...but at this point it look as though we will be waiting a few more days. The logjam of papers for getting 3 children from 2 different regions really delayed the submission of our documents to court, so we had to battle uphill an already full court docket, and in addition the judge is wanting to take a little time to review the case. We have wrestled through a variety of thoughts, and asked every question about why the process is creeping along instead of walking along. But if we spend too much time wondering, we lose focus on people, especially our children, and we lean towards complaint (and we don't want to go there). So, as we find details, we will share the news with you our caring friends and loved ones.

Please pray with us about several things:
1) That God will make the heart of the judge open to the gospel through adoption and she will be sensitive to our situation and us having 5 children at home needing us to return soon.
2) For us to wisely use our time to honor Him through loving people here.
3) For the person scheduling court- that an early next week opening will occur on the calendar. (You can pray for a miracle of court tomorrow- that would be fine.)
4) For us to be aligned with His will.


Psalm 28:7 "the Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in Him and I am helped."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In our prayer time today, He led us to understand the privilege of using such a small window of our life to effect things that have lifelong, hopefully even eternal significance. Psalm 103:15 “as for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes…v.17 “but the loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…”

“Father help us to glorify your Son by showing love to our future children, to those who hold our papers, to those who serve our food, to everyone we share life here with…and accomplish your will through our submission. Would you be our obedience, for we have none to offer that You have not begun in us already!”

As for now, we are praying for all our approvals to show up in one spot as soon as possible, but we also are praying for ways to wisely use time and distance to know our new children better and to demonstrate His love to them. As details come about, we will keep you posted. By the way, big surprise-the weather here is cold, gray, and snowy. Okay-so it is not a big surprise, but we are thankful to sleep warmly at night and we are grateful for your friendship as well.

Psalm 39:7 “and now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stuck in the middle

It was, in some ways, a disappointing day. We had hoped that the conclusion letter from the region where the boys reside would be ready on Friday, but it was not signed Friday. We assumed that it would be signed this morning early and sent to the the SDA before lunch. We were wrong. In addition, the SDA was supposed to have sent a letter to girl 'k's orphanage so they could locally cancel the guardianship. This didn't happen until 2:30 pm today by fax, and this was about the same time that our conclusion letter was finally completed out in the boys region. Unfortunately, the local council in the girl's region was not able to get the document today, and we were told that they may not be able to act on this document until the 19th of February. That is not good.
So, as we transported ladies from the boys region office to get additional signatures, we made phone calls to the girl's orphanage to see if they could put some additional urgency on the council to act and cancel the guardianship. The ultimate goal of all this is for the SDA to issue a permission to ask for a court date. Hopefully in the morning there will be a resolution about the girl's guardianship and we will be able to request court. Please pray with us, as we have been doing all day, that this paperwork logjam will clear tomorrow which would possibly give us a court date late in this week.

We have officially been gone from the concrete in Birmingham airport going on the 4th week now. It may not seem long to you, but in complete transparency, we are feeling the duration full force. As you can imagine, our waiting game and paperwork cat and mouse chase have not allowed us to spend any time with our new children today, and the problem with distance between the 2 orphanages shuts down any spur of the moment decisions to make a visit. This has been the most challenging paperwork chase of our 3 adoption adventures. We are thankful for Yuriy our facilitator, and for his warm car and rally driving skills. Doing this by metro or by taxi at this point would be very difficult.

We were very encouraged yesterday to be able to see and speak with our M17 community via skype, even if we were very uncertain right until the call came through that we would have internet access or not. It was Vickie's 3rd asking for a Wifi card that did the trick. We are less anxious about the process than we are from being away from our children, but we are "letting our request be made known to God". Thank you for joining in this with us.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Free at last (for a few minutes)

Today, we got to experience a kind of temporary jail break. Our plan was to have our facilitator bring girl 'k' to meet us, hang out for a while in the city, and then all of us would take some public transportation out to see the boys. A phone call from the orphanage changed our plans. We found out that big 'k' had a soccer game against an unknown opponent. We shifted plans for our romantic Valentine's day with 4 kids and a translator. Vickie, Kole and I struck out for the last stop on the Metro, and we met our facilitator, girl 'k' and Luda and headed the orphanage first. Our facilitator had plans so he dropped us off. Big 'k' had told us we could ride the bus to the game with them, but there was no bus, only 2 cars. We were pleased to find out that the drivers of these cars were believers, who have been frequenting the orphanage on the weekends to build relationships with the kids. It was good to know that someone is caring for them from the body of Christ in Kiev, Ukraine.

We had a great time watching skinny legged boys play indoor soccer (what a surprise!) against some well trained city girls and boys teams. It is not very often that any boys get to leave the orphanage to go play. So, this was a treat for them as well. Post game activity was a meal for the boys at a local shopping mall, where they devoured twice their body weight in food. It was great to have all 3 kids plus Kole together away from any orphanage grounds. The family dynamic is growing stronger and we laughed as they awkwardly interact with each other. Once the meal was done, we turned heads on a shuttle bus as we headed over to play a few arcade games. Our fun time ended up at the busiest McDonald's in Kiev, next to "word that translates crossways" metro. This was only the 2nd time for the boys to ever eat at McDonald's in their life and the first to ever eat together there. Little 'k' actually remembered begging for money outside McDonald's to eat there the first time.

We all rode the metro and the bumpy shuttle through the night to the boys orphanage, had prayers and hugs, and then we parted ways with girl 'k' and Luda back at Nivky station. We are now sitting in our favorite internet spot writing and listening to a guy play and sing "Sweet Home Alabama". Can you believe it? The guy is from Atlanta, but spent some time in Birmingham, and now he lives in Kiev working as a journalist/singer, pretty funny... It is good to hear music in English, and songs we know.
Keep praying for the kids to bond with us and each other, and for court, and for God to be glorified and for His will to be done in us. We pray for you and are thankful for each of you. We miss our kids and love them very much!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

More of the same

Highlights for today were:

1) A chance to visit with little 'k' and big 'k' at their orphanage for a while. We sat in (of course) the dark lobby and talked with them while the caretakers squeaked back and forth on the ancient hardwoods. They smile and stare as we laugh and talk.
2) A chance to discuss American names with the boys, and get the nod of approval from both parties. They seemed very happy to comply with something easier to say in English, plus who would want to be a Nichols kid without a 'K' name?
3) Progress on our paperwork that may have a good result for court next week. So please keep praying for the details to complete our stack of documents.

This is Kole, and i want to say hey to all of my friends. i am having fun in Ukraine getting to know my new brothers and sister.
i miss everybody and hope to be home soon next week.

We'll know more tomorrow.

Our computer that has our pictures on it is having technical difficulties at this time, so no pictures for today.


Kole,Vickie, and Chris

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Riding in a car

Still in the paper chase, we left our home away from home around 10:30 am (with laundry items washing!!!) and retrieved the health paper from the boys orphanage. You should know that my Russian reading is improving to a dangerous level, so I am wearing my facilitator out asking questions about how words are pronounced. Between my Russian/Ukrainian and Kole's questions, each trip is a sight and sound experience for Vickie. I am always stunned at the capsule of history from the Soviet Union days that I see over and over...more on this later.

We made a stop at the inspector's office and bought office supplies so they can print the conclusion document that we need. The document will be ready tomorrow instead of Friday because we are taking a guy to their office to replace a broken lock on the office door in the morning. It seems infrastructure issues are a little more challenging to get taken care of here, even when it is a government office.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, our friend Luda and the director of girl 'k's orphanage collaborated to send a fax to the SDA to explain why the guardianship should be cancelled by local government in the village as opposed to the region. We think the SDA likes this idea, and they are adding their own cover letter to her region inspector. Please pray that this will work so that we can request a court date as soon as possible.

Tonight, due to the waiting game, we had a few extra minutes for the first time since we've been here to allow Kole to play in an arcade in one of the underground mall areas in the center of the city. He has been great, and so patient in this process that we had to give him a little play time. Pretty interesting to buy tokens when you have no idea what the sign says about how much each token cost, but we figured it out. I felt like an ESL student must feel in a high school lunch room. After games, we scored big with a pizza place that also has Wi-Fi. Thank you for walking with us through this journey. Hopefully tomorrow, there will be more time to visit with all 3 kids.


On display

Tuesday brought us a variety of things. We focused today on completing paperwork in girl ‘k’s region. We picked her up from her school in mid-day (I know she was devastated to leave) in the village where her orphanage is located, then we made the drive to the inspector’s office for her area. Vickie, Kole, and I waited in the dark hall while Yuriy, girl ‘k’, and Luda went inside to answer the questions from the inspector. We were prepared to sit for a while, but God was gracious in allowing this to be really short. This allowed some time for us to go to a notary and prepare official letters that would essentially ask both regions to “get their ducks in a row” in a government fashion for the SDA to petition for court.

This signing and stamping went smoothly, and so we had a little time to go eat and go back to girl ‘k’s village for a really encouraging time with a gathering of believers. Now this was close to New Testament church! First of all, they met in an unused “town hall room” and there were families, and kids, and elderly people packed into the room. Different people, kids included, shared songs and short offerings of thanks to God. We were pointed out as “the family” who had come to adopt girl ‘k’ and she smiled and was proud to have us there to show us off to her friends. What was really incredible was that since the room was full, they had already made the decision for several in the room to begin a similar gathering in a village near by. Yes! They had only been meeting 3 times in this room. Talk about multiplication-I pray it would be so for us as well. When the time together was completed, we were able to meet with the pastor-leader of this “church plant”, and to share with him and pray with him. I think he was surprised that I was so excited to see them beginning more gatherings in another village, and his eyes were focused as I told him I was praying for God to give him the whole nation of Ukraine and beyond.

He wants to meet with us later this week and have dinner. We look forward to this for several reasons. He is the actually the overall director for the Christian orphanage, and he serves as one of the Pastors at the larger church we worshipped with on Sunday. Right now, we are praying that God would speed along the “cancellation of guardianship” for girl ‘k’. We explained this earlier, but there is still some uncertainty on who decides. God is sovereign in this, and we are seeking grace from Him to see His work and to display His glory through the process, and not to display our fatigue or emotions, but rather to display His word. We miss our kids, our M17 family, and all of Brook Hills. Please continue to pray for us to share, show, teach, and serve His kingdom.

1 Thess. 2:19-20
“For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”

It will not be our fortunes that show when we come to His presence. It will, however, be lives, people, faces, that we have shared with, shown, taught, and served.


Monday, February 9, 2009


“Ka-chunk”, wait. “Ka-chunk”, wait. If you have ever adopted, you understand that sound of “Ka-chunk” is the familiar tune of the “stamp that makes everything official”. There are little ones, that sound more like ‘Ka-chink”, and then there’s the big mama that goes “Ka-chunk”. This pattern, to some degree, sums up a major portion of our day. We started out in the cold rain this morning headed across chilly, muddy Kiev to pick up a representative from the inspector’s office in the boys orphanage region. We had to take her with us to the orphanage to meet with the boys and the director of the orphanage. It is always an interesting dynamic to sit in an office and watch 3 hours of Ukrainian language interaction between 2 government workers and a facilitator who is just trying to get the paperwork we need to continue. Despite my best efforts to pick out some words, the pace accelerates until it sounds like “hooked on phonics” meets MC Hammer, and it glazes me over. We sit, we listen, we smile, we pray (silently), we sit, repeat—you get it. Finally, the pitch of the foreign conversation changes, heads nod, and documents appear and go into the hands of an administrative assistant (let’s call her Miss Moneypenny, for those of you who know the James Bond movie-except she’s 30 years older now).

After an encore of this routine several times over, our 2 handsome boys awkwardly step in to the office, smiling and wearing their mismatched school jackets and trousers, in order to sign “consent forms” that allow them to be adopted. (I think it is an understated way to begin a changed life, but in some ways it is better this way…) They hugged us like they meant it, and then got to work. For some reason, this signing ordeal alone lasted for almost an hour, compared to mere minutes in our last 2 adoptions. The good news is that our lengthy visit almost completed the papers needed in the boys region, except we had to make a return trip to the inspector’s office to drop off inspector 13-A and pick up a paper that she forgot to bring on trip #1. So, we made another drive out to what I have nicknamed “the forbidden forest” orphanage to get this paper signed and (yes) stamped.

At this point, feeling exhausted for no good reason, we head cross-country to girl ‘k’ territory to help them get the paper work underway. We are hearing that her guardianship will need to be cancelled before we can have court, and this is a problem. It seems there is some confusion (go figure) on whether the cancellation can be done locally or if the region council has to decide it (sort of like city or county). If the city can do it, it can happen much more quickly, if the county does it, they will only meet on Feb.19th. Obviously we were praying for better news, and we got some idea at the private orphanage that the decision might be able to be made on the local level, since it was granted on the local level. A person from the SDA will make a call tomorrow, so please be praying. We got to see our lovely daughter to be for a few minutes, while Yuriy and Luda hammered through paperwork. Tomorrow, we visit the inspector’s office for girl ‘k’s region to get permission slips signed similar to paragraph #2 above.

Thanks for praying,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday at the soccer field

By the way, the mystery man must have come into the main room of the apartment and cut off the code to the washing machine. We just can't seem to make a break from socialism or maybe it just boils down to our great communication skills in Russian. We timed our departure from the apartment in order to make it across town to the last stop on the red line metro. We took some pictures since frankly in the fog and the mud it looks like every other stop on the metro. Yuri picked us up and he had precious cargo inside already, since he had picked up girl 'k' and Luda before he made it to our stop. We spent the afternoon with the boys and girl 'k' on the orphanage grounds playing soccer, socializing, and sharing hugs and smiles. After a lengthy recreation time in the cold fog, we headed inside to our favorite teachers conference room, where we hold high level discussions with everyone. The boys unfortunately couldn't leave the orphanage due to the directors orders about some quarantine to slow the spread of a head cold. We were puzzled with this and how it would reduce the chance of spreading it among the other kids.

We made the decision to leave the school with girl 'k' and Luda, because it was shower time for the boys. So we took the Ukrainian culture express mini bus back to civilization, then caught the metro to downtown Kiev. It was pretty exciting to walk through Independence Square, arm in arm with our new daughter. She comes in and out of creative moods just like any 13 year old would do, even American 13 year old girls. We sent her and Luda on their way to make a curfew time, while we found some internet access to blog with. Tomorrow we are joining with girl 'k' and other believers for a worship gathering near her orphanage. They have asked Chris to share a few words for tomorrow. Maybe he won't have to preach a sermon that he is not prepared to do Ha! We are making this entry short, because it has been a full Saturday. We are grateful for how you all are caring for our family, especially for kids at home. Thank you for taking meals over and making sure they have something to eat-they are loving it! (I think Alanna is enjoying it also) We are so grateful for Alanna!

The Nichols

Friday, February 6, 2009

growing closer

Here is a brief Friday update for you all. Paperwork is churning in the boy’s orphanage and the inspector’s office for their region. Paperwork is churning in the sister’s orphanage and the inspector’s office for her region. The big hurdles to overcome are cancellation papers for girl ‘k’s guardianship, and permission signatures from director’s of both orphanages and the SDA, and papers that are similar to an affidavit for permission from the kids themselves, etc. I’m sure we are oversimplifying based on our previous experiences here. Once all these documents line up, there will be the push for a court date to occur. So, please pray for any and all of these issues.

Our facilitator picked us up from our apartment for the drive outside of Kiev to pick up girl ‘k’ and Luda. We had arranged it so that we could make a trip to the center of the city for a meal at TGI Friday’s. It was her first time there, and she really seemed to enjoy the business lunch and dessert, just like our American daughters would! We had some great discussion, and then made the smoggy, cold and muddy trek to see the boys. The boys, what can we say?
They crack us up with big ‘k’s serious face, and little ‘k’s mischievous face. There may be work there to do with him. What is it that one spiritual man I know says? He says “getting them out is the hard part, the rest is just discipleship.” I think he’s understating the “just discipleship” if you know what I mean. We talked about fruits, colors, favorite countries, languages, our family, and we gave the boys a few items that they need just to have some changes of clothing. They are interacting very well, and we plan on more time together tomorrow. We were so amazed to hear that our new girl ‘k’ told us that she had prayed for us last night, and we have had several conversations explaining how God has lead us through this and that she is a great surprise of joy for us.

One funny thing… she excitedly told her friends last night and today about her new family, but there was only one problem, she couldn’t remember our names, and the only thing she could remember was her new name. Still, she seems really excited to think about living with our family as our new daughter/sister. She was focused today on big questions like: what are your names, where do you work, do you have a car, do we have pets, do they speak English? We explained that we have a dog that speaks Spanish, only to have her helper Luda say, “really?” Even girl ‘k’ was laughing at that. Bottom line is, that we are excited about what God is doing with these 3 children, and we are grateful for your prayers and encouragement. We pray that in the days ahead, God will display His wisdom, love and power through our family even more.


Thursday, February 5, 2009


It was what you would call a monumental day today just in sheer accomplishment alone, but also in the good outcomes of the day. Off to a slow start…we actually found someone to turn on the code for the washing machine! Yessss! Now, we began to be concerned about any action for the day as lunch time came and went, and we took some time to pray with our new adjoining apartment family about their embassy visit and hopeful flight tomorrow. Our prayers were interrupted when our facilitator called us and advised he would pick us up in 10 minutes to go for our referral letter for girl ‘k’, the yet “un-meetable” sister of the boys. Now in the SDA office there is a place I like to call “the stairs”. It seems that the stairs serve as a waiting room, a social area for adoption facilitators, and a Romeo Juliet playhouse where the actors come to the top and shout out their lines to the unsuspecting parents to be and the others below. Meanwhile, the guard examines each visitor in the stairwell with a scowl, and then a blank look and occasionally a smile.

Finally, you are chosen to leave the stairs, flash your passport, sign some graph paper book, get your referral paper, and head out the doors-try not to slip on the ice. Now it was on to the inspector for girl ‘k’s region, and a quick grilling ensued from 3 ladies seated at desks in a 10’x10’ room. They looked incredulously at our desire to have possibly 9 children now, but I was clearly able to share that this could be part of God’s highest use of our life and it was Him who motivated us to begin this journey.

Now drive quickly on to the private orphanage in Clanton, Ukraine (just kidding). We were able to meet our friend L. and soon a lovely, somewhat shy girl appeared over our shoulder, looking like she belonged between 2 boys we have already met. We began discussing our family, and showing pictures of us, and within a few minutes there seemed to be some bridges built like some miracle was occurring. She took us all upstairs to show us her room, her friend’s rooms, and she even made a comment to another girl at the orphanage that was translated to us quietly as “these are my future parents”. Within another 10 minutes, we had permission to take girl ‘k’ with us to meet her 2 brothers, who she had not seen in 8 years. It was frankly unbelievable that it all worked out the way it did, and we sat there stunned as she talked with her brothers and we looked at pictures from big ‘k’s room of their past lives. Of course, little ‘k’ was his usual active self, being the typical 10 year old who had basically never seen his sister. We were treated to a tour of the boys hallway and rooms, and sat around a table in the teachers area and had quite an amazing reunion. Our time closed out there, and we had to return girl ‘k’ to her district, so we struck out yet again toward Clanton, Ukraine. Of course it was completely dark for the drive and we discussed weighty topics in the car with her as we rode.

We received hugs like we had known her for some time, and she has clearly said that she wants to be part of our family. She said she has dreamed of this for 8 years now, and she even wants to change her name to match the ‘K’s, abruptly coming up with her own ‘k’ name.

More details tomorrow…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There’s always that confusing, awkward feeling to do things here like wash clothes, especially when the washer is in the bathroom and the sign says’ “do not wash by your own”. What does this mean exactly? You venture down the stairway to find the mystery man who holds the code to the electronic washing machine. You ask, “Do you speak English? He says, “yes”, so you ask, “Are you the one with the washing machine code?” he says “internet, internet.” So you reply, “thank you” and walk away...

To make a long day short:
1) Pray, wait, pray, wait, Kole does some homework, pray, wait.
2) Our facilitator talked with us a couple of times to give us a play by play of the meeting that was going on at the SDA with the private orphanage representative, the inspector, the deputy director of the SDA, and the director of the SDA.(glad to know we are being discussed in such high circles)
3) We slushed to the nearby metro station to get out of the apartment for a while-had lunch-walked around- and looked in the shops to waste time. I felt genuinely like a tourist.
4) Yuri picked us up for another trip to the inspector’s office (we shuddered to think of the 8’x8’ room again). Fortunately, we waited in the car while Kole took the opportunity to play in the snow.
5) We got a referral letter for the 2 boys!!
6) Drove to the orphanage with the referral letter to give to the director and visited with big ‘K’ and little ‘k’. (Little ‘k’ was a little worried because we hadn’t been there in 2 days. He said he kept checking the lobby to see if we were there yet.)
7) As for girl ‘k’, the results of the meeting this morning are as follows…she must return to the private Christian orphanage tonight, the orphanage will contact the SDA when she arrives, the SDA will then write a referral letter for her, we will get the letter (hopefully in the morning), and proceed out to this area (to a different inspector’s office) for permission to visit her.
8) Ride silently back to the center of the city, eat supper and briefly visit with another Brook Hills couple (Greg and Melanie) who just arrived here to adopt. Offer encouragement and prayer for their adventure.
9) Venture back to the apartment-meet an American family staying in the room next door who are finishing their adoption process. Offer hope that this is our 3rd adoption journey and we have survived through His grace.
10) Write this blog and run up icy hill at 10:50 pm to the internet café to post on line.

We thank God for this opportunity to serve the world.

The Nichols

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The saying goes “the best laid plans…” and you know the rest. Well, you may not know the rest so we will tell you. Up at 7:00 a.m., hike to the internet café (by the way it is 18 degrees while you walk), sit in smoke filled room, check emails and blog, return to the apartment to wait for our facilitator’s call. We were disappointed at message one, and more disappointed when we got to the SDA, expecting our referral for all 3 children only to find that even the government is confused right now. So, we get no referral letter. Why is this a big deal? Because you can’t officially visit the kids or petition for court until you get it in hand along with other documents.

Some wheels were already in motion for us to visit the inspector’s office again where we would meet our friend L. who works with the private orphanage where girl ‘k’ was living until a few days ago. After the typical “Eastern Europe school of driving tour” out to the inspector’s office, we sat with Kole (By the way, God is gracious and Kole was fabulous despite this boring situation for a 10 year old) in an 8’x8’ lobby area with one light bulb for 3 hours while the inspector’s office and the SDA and our facilitator and our friend L. were trying to decide how to unravel this odd situation. Seems simple enough. Not so…basically you can’t get a referral when a child has a guardian, but no official guardian exists since she was recently switched from one location to another and the former guardian is now gone and a new guardian has come-yet when is a guardian not really a guardian? No one seems to know here. Clear enough?? The government says no separation of siblings, yet we can’t see or meet girl ‘k’ sibling without a referral, which puts us back at step one.

There were lots of prayers this day. I think we are being completely transparent when we say that we came to the close of our adventure with no progress in our limited understanding. This is not to say that progress was not made, it may just not be our timetable. We pondered many questions as we walked to the market in the cold darkness tonight, prayerfully trusting God with each one of them.

Please pray with us earnestly for these things:
1) For decision making- that someone can decide if there is a guardian or not for girl ‘k’ and who it is or is not so we can move on with the process
2) For a referral tomorrow morning when our facilitator goes back to the SDA at 10 a.m.
3) For God to get great glory in this difficulty
4) For these children who have been disappointed so many times-more than any of us will ever know-that they will not be discouraged in waiting

We are not worried about the outcome, we just want His best in each moment in this process.

“Tell me how to show love without spending time, energy, or money, and I will gladly sign up. Tell me that love means sacrifice, however, and I become reluctant to commit myself.”-Hybels

God help us to correctly express who You are in the midst of serving others.
Blessings, The Nichols

Monday, February 2, 2009

Try and stay focused...

The plan this morning was to be in the inspector’s office at 10 a.m. to hear more information about the sister of our boys. Let’s call her ‘girl k’ for short. Plans here don’t always materialize so when our facilitator picked us up, we found out that the SDA office had no power (literally no lights-no phone-so they were closed) So, even if we were at the inspector's office, they would not receive information from the SDA. This is "bureau speak" for we will sit here and look at each other for a while. After praying, we, along with our facilitator believed it best to drive out to talk with the private orphanage where ‘girl k’ has been staying. You can do this because it is not a government school, but there is more.

This place was on the outskirts of right bank Kiev, kind of like Clanton except snowier (Just to give you a visual). The people were great there and very helpful. We were able to pray with them and have lunch with them, but there was only one problem. ‘Girl k’ was temporarily sent to a state run orphanage yesterday. State run orphanage... Do you know what this means???? Yes, more official documents required before seeing her now. O.k. let’s find a notary in the city, that has a relationship with the SDA, that is working today late in the afternoon, and has written referral requests before. This would narrow the field… let’s see from about 5 million people down to 2 ladies in their bathrobes in their apartment (this was her off day from work), which is being renovated. I know this is hard to believe, but truth is stranger than fiction, and always more interesting. I wanted to post photos, but it just wouldn’t be right. We finally got the bathrobe stamp of approval, and raced across town toward the SDA building which now had power and phones providentially late in the day. We had 15 minutes to get a signature from a translator and then get it to the SDA office before it closed. We made it with a few seconds to spare!

We did find some details about ‘girl k’. She was found basically on the street at age 6, and was removed from the parents at that time. This would’ve meant that our boy, little ‘k’ would’ve only been 3 years old at the time and big ‘k’ was only 8. Sometime later, our boys(her brothers) were put in another orphanage in the city and the parent’s rights were terminated. We actually saw a picture of her today. One of the people from the private orphanage, a lady named L., is going voluntarily tonight to talk to girl ‘k’ to give her a night to think about what we will be meeting with her about tomorrow (we are supposed to get a referral letter tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. and then we will go talk with her). So, all this to
say… be in prayer for His glory to be displayed, for us to have wisdom, and for girl ‘k’ as we see her and begin to build connections with her. Also pray for the boys, since they have no knowledge of our adventures today. We are thankful for each of you and for your prayers on our behalf. Thanks to all who have encouraged us with comments and emails.

Chris, Vickie and Kole

1 Thessalonians 2:8 “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Edition...

Sunday morning showed up with some fresh snow, and a wind that will cut your nose off. You think I am kidding. We took our usual route to the orphanage, once again joined by our friend Oleg P. (see how you benefit from hosting exchange students?). Sunday mornings are fairly quiet at the school yard, and we were surprised to see little ‘k’ since he had told us he was going with his class on a field trip. He clopped around the corner just as we walked in the door into the (you guessed it) dark lobby. Now today, even the guard wore his jacket and stood by the radiator while we talked with the boys. He seemed to love every minute of our conversation with the boys. We waited for them to go down the hall for 15 minutes of their 30 minute lunch time, and little ‘k’ quickly returned with soccer shorts (from the uniform we gave him) and yes, the cleats (see post from Saturday).

O.K. out into the grey wind we go, looking for a place to stand where your breath is not taken away by the icy breeze. We were laughing at little ‘k’ taking a risk of frost bite on his skinny legs as he wore his new thin soccer uniform. You would’ve thought it was the Bahamas for him. Fortunately, we had to leave to meet with Igor in the middle of the afternoon, so we had our standard trip to thaw out on the way back into the city. Most Ukrainians would choose the 2 grevnia shuttle, since it is a little faster than the bus.
Frankly today, Ukrainians and Americans would choose whatever drove by that had a heater. You know how mud gets mixed up and makes tracks from vehicles driving on the wet ground? These mud tracks are not mud anymore but more like bricks with black ice on top of them. After the long haul to meet our friend, we realized a miscommunication had occurred. So, we write now before we make the trek back across town to the apartment. Our sunny Florida friends leave at about 2:30 a.m., so what’s the point of going to bed? More details to follow…Praise God for His faithfulness to us, and for our constant burden to be aligned with His Spirit. We miss all of you (especially our kids at home).

The Nichols

It's the weekendska!

Saturday morning…good news…there was some blue sky when we looked through the window this morning. Bad news…that means it is colder. We were able to link up with our former exchange student Oleg P. this morning to visit with him and for him to translate for us at the orphanage. He is at the University here in Kiev. We did not know he was in Kiev when we called him, so we were pleased to find out that Oleg was just a few metro stops away from us.

Now you have to understand that when you do not have a car, you have some choices about how to get across town. There is the expensive option of a taxi, especially one rented to an American, or you can take the public transportation. Since our facilitator had a conflict today, we chose our standard public transportation, which means a walk to the closest station (call it LA), and then a subway car for one stop, then an escalator, then stairs, then another subway car, then a shuttle bus, then a walk. 1 ½ hours later, you are standing in the orphanage gates. See how easy that was? I’m feeling hungry, how about you? Too bad, you are at least ½ hour from some food. On to the visit…

Our boys big ‘K’ and little ‘k’, soon came bouncing into the lobby. Big ‘K’ has some kind of cold, so he is not as energetic as his brother, but I don’t think he is ever as energetic as his younger brother. We sat in the dark lobby and had great conversation with them through the help of Oleg P., (no lights turned on until 4 p.m.) and eventually worked up the nerve to go outside for a little soccer action. We had brought a pair of soccer cleats for little ‘k’ and some new tennis shoes for big ‘K’. Both guys seemed happy with our choices, so happy, they haven’t taken the shoes or cleats off as of the time we saw them on Sunday(reference Sunday blog). By the way, the boys seemed to be warming up to us with every time we see them. They crack us up with their serious faces and occasional smiles. Oleg reassured them that he had lived with us and everything was great in America.

After the visit at the orphanage, we reversed the process in paragraph 2 above, except we added some steps via taxi out to Oleg V. house for dinner with him and his family and some folks from his board of directors in Nashville. It was a relaxing evening, completed by a 70 grevnia cab ride back to the center of the city, then see paragraph 2 above for the route home. We woke up Boris to let us in the door at the apartment at midnight and fortunately our friends from Florida left the light on for us. Hopefully this explains why our communication has been limited in the last few hours.

Chris, Vickie, and Kole
We miss you Kelsey, Kirby, Kyndal, Kyle, Karson