Friday, March 27, 2009

Tell the official-" timeout"

Based on the fact that we went to the court house yesterday to check with the judge about when the court decree could be picked up, and based on the fact that she indicated no sooner than April 8th at 9:00am, we had some choices to make. A standard waiting period after court to pick up the court decree (all sewn with thread and stamped thoroughly all over) is 10 days. Our robed official has indicated that she is packing 10 days into 14 days. We opted for Chris to come home tomorrow (March 28th)with Kelsey and Vickie, who were already set to return on this day. Later, Chris will make a return trip when the paperwork is ready. This is not easy for our kids, or for us, but there are not alot of options with the length of this overall process stretching off and on over several months now. Even though it has been quite a process, we have sensed God's surpassing peace in us through this time and even through the uncertainty of the court. It really seems that His Spirit has created many of the road blocks to allow us to fully prepare for life with these 3 new ones, and for them to see more truth and love from Him through us. In fact, they are having to learn to trust us more because of the process (that we really will return each time we leave!). Remember ministry is our life being lived out on our turf or on theirs, and God supplies grace for both.

Yesterday was another exciting ministry day in a couple of ways. One was that we found out that a couple from America that we had shared and prayed with over dinner on Wednesday night got good news about a child in another region of Ukraine, and they went today to meet the child. They actually called us before flying there to thank us for talking with them because they were ready to fly home and call it quits before we met. A second good thing was the chance to have dinner with Sue Boycott from Birmingham. She had come to Ukraine to visit a child she met on a hosting program and file documents with the embassy for her. It was great to be able to help her with the metro and to have some good conversation with her.

We've spent the day doing some back and forth between notary offices to make sure we have an early start on the "last leg of the relay" so to speak. The highlight for the afternoon has been to go to a nearby shopping area and watch our little man Kory bounce on a bungee machine like a rubber ball. He tested the limits of the elastic ropes and made the attendant really nervous as he did double back flips. A grandmother seated near by was fascinated to watch him, I think she enjoyed it more than us. Later this evening, it will be time to take everyone back to their same ole' place until a few days from now, when liberation comes full scope. Please pray for our flights and the connections to make it home tomorrow night. We want each of you to know how thankful we are to have you as friends and family, and how God has strenghtened us to go forward through your prayers and encouraging words to us. We have experienced life in the body of Christ even 7,000 miles away from you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Court day-take 2-VICTORY!

So here's the deal-we were encouraged this morning to see the sunshine for the first time since we have been here. We alloted enough time for us to take care of some things, have some time to eat, and make sure we arrived early at Obolon metro station to meet Yuriy for a short drive over to the court house. Finally, everyone showed up except for the inspector from the boy's region, and she walked in out of breath just before 4 pm. Our friendly judge and 2 jurors clopped in within 30 seconds. We started our usual round of "who am I" and "why am I here" through the room. Everything seemed to be moving fine, until we got to the representative for the orphanage where the boys live. The director couldn't be there today, so she sent the attorney for the orphanage with a power of attorney letter. There was more awkward silence while the judge perused the papers and asked rapid fire questions to the attorney, who was obviously shaken by some issue. Yuriy turned to us and basically said, "you aren't going to believe this, but the judge is saying that we have the same problem, only it is with the other orphanage now"(with the paper work wording for power of attorney). It got quiet again. Vickie and I were both silently praying and waiting for someone to speak to break the silence. More Russian words are exchanged and finally Yuriy told us that the judge is going to allow her to bring a modified paper in the morning before 10 am.(this same document needing changed wording for the other orphanage could've happened back last Friday when our court was cancelled, but evidently the judge did not want to go forward then)

We just now are getting to the heart of the process and already everyone is on pins and needles to see what is next. So, Chris gets to go first. He is grilled on everything from where he was born, to what his job is, to what is your income, to how many children, to how big is your house, to how are you going to provide health care for them, to what is your shoe size(just kidding), to why do you want these kids, etc... But the exciting thing is that we had a captive audience (judge included) that had to listen to the great story of God in taking us through three adoption adventures! They all had to listen to how we believe that this is possibly one of God's greatest uses of our life, and how we know that this in line with the scriptures and the heart of God. Next Vickie got to share her story, and be grilled with some questions from the judge and the 2 jurors..."why do you want to adopt more kids? How will you discipline them?" So phase one was complete...

Now Your Honor (aka miss congeniality) got to ask our future kids into the room one at a time. It was a small scale circus. First, girl 'k' did a beautiful job, even answering with some English words. Next, big 'k' sheepishly smiled his way through saying to the court with an honest goof up of telling them we had 7 kids. They asked if he knew who we were and he answered, "Yes--Americans!" The court room burst into laughter. Who knew? Next, little 'k' breezed in and energetically told the court that we were his "Mama and Papa!" I think I saw a smile even in the judge's face. Okay, just one more step since no one from any of the agencies represented had a problem with the court findings. Oh yeah, one more thing Your Honor...Chris got the chance to share the story of Karson's brother Ruslan, who passed up the opportunity to come to America with us in 2006, and later died of Tuberculosis. He explained how this motivated us to take action even when we just found out about the sister of these two boys, and how this makes us want to take her into our family as well. There were actually tears from the eyes of the several in the room. We waited as the judge and jurors left for deliberation.

Back they come and everyone quickly sits down to await the answer. Okay stand up again and listen. The court decision is read. Get ready.

Meet 15-year-old Kollin Eric Nichols, 13-year-old Kayla Anastasia Nichols, and 10-year-old Kory Elliot Nichols. All now part of the Nichols' family. More details later!


Chris, Vickie, and Kelsey

Psalm 68:6
"God sets the lonely in families..."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three's a crowd

If you’ve been wondering what’s going on, we’ve had a little trouble with internet access in our apartment, and our schedule has not given us a chance to spend time in an internet cafĂ©. On Monday, we took a snowy shuttle ride from the metro stop at Nivky station out to meet girl ‘k’ and Luda, and then together we bounced our way out to the boy’s orphanage. At this point in our journey I have just about memorized the old automated voice announcements in the subway cars. It is obviously recorded from a long time ago, and the ancient speakers make it sound similar to the Charlie Brown teacher’s voice in the Peanuts cartoons. We sloshed to a stop near the orphanage around 3:30 pm and were surprised to see the director walking in the hallway. She stopped long enough to sit with us (a rarity) and chat. We discussed the short-circuited court date from last Friday and pondered the sovereign will of God about such things with her through translation from Luda. It was a good thing to talk with her, and she volunteered for us to take the boys out of the multi-room holding cell they call home each day to go with us for the night. Okay- this is a test run of the days ahead when we have all three in waiting for travel documents.

Now picture the scene as we take our future “3” with us through the frequent stares, and we single-handedly attempt to bring Ukraine out of financial recession by the amount of grevnas we spend at the nearest arcade and the McDonalds near the metro stop. It is funny to watch “little k” as he goes from machine to machine, spending his tokens like there is no tomorrow, and then to watch him eat again at McDonalds even though we just ate 2 hours earlier at a buffet restaurant aptly named some words that translate to “fat house”… I am convinced he can eat more than I can-scary isn’t it? Our evening ended with a much needed shower for “little k” and with “big k” using a brush to scrub his tennis shoes so they continue to sparkle despite the cruddy black slush and mud we tromp through each day.

This morning our little flock decided to get up at the crack of dawn for no apparent reason, so we took the opportunity to get everyone dressed and go for a 15 minute walk to experience a newly imported treat…breakfast menu at McD’s! Yes- egg mcmuffins have made a comeback here in Eastern Europe and they seem to be doing well…this writing finds us spending a little time goofing off downtown until we have to return everyone from their work release with us before court tomorrow.

Please pray for our court tomorrow at 4 pm. Pray for any unexpected items that the judge might try to come up with to delay this once again, and pray for grace and strength for us as we continue on this journey. Pray that all the people show up for court that are supposed to be there and pray for us to show Christ to our new children.

Chris, Vickie, and Kelsey

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Going forward

Hello from Sunday afternoon in Kiev. We hope you are enjoying your good Alabama weather, at least one of us is getting good weather. We are enjoying light snow. On Saturday, we were able to visit the boys briefly at their orphanage, and girl 'k' got to meet us there and spend the night with us at the apartment. Unfortunately the boys don't have the same privilege. When we got to the apartment, 'K' enjoyed trying on some clothes that we brought for her and showing us how good they looked. I think she really enjoyed hanging out with us. Kelsey has worked hard to help translate...

This morning we met with a group of believers in the south part of Kiev, where there were people from Africa, Australia, America, Ukraine, Italy, and a few other places. It was good to see the church reaching to the international community of Kiev, since it is a wide open area to let the gospel be carried to other nations. It was an English speaking gathering, and they were meeting in a painted and carpeted warehouse area. We are going after lunch to see the boys (with no translator), which is always interesting. We are thankful for some time with girl 'k' away from her orphanage and away from her usual network of a social worker or caregiver. We think she enjoys being with us, even if we can't communicate on everything. This is probably good practice for later for us, you know, point and do "cave man talk".

Chris and Vickie and Kelsey

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness." Psalm 103:8

Friday, March 20, 2009


For those who have had our adoption journey dvd on hold, you can hit the play button and you will see us following our contrail route back through the skies to land here in Kiev yesterday. Chilly and cloudy skies with mixed snow and rain met us at the airport. We drove with our facilitator back into town and settled in for the night at Karson’s Ukrainian apartment on the left bank.

We rose from our unconscious sleep to head across town for court today at 2 pm. It was like a reunion of sorts, with people converging from every area of Kiev. There was our facilitator, inspectors from 2 regions, orphanage representatives from 2 regions, a director from the SDA, a prosecutor for the state, 2 jurors/witnesses, and of course our 3 children, all with freshly scrubbed faces. We began our proceeding with the basic questions and roll call. No hitch there. Only one thing was slightly out of place- the director of girl ‘k’s orphanage was not available, so she had sent a representative with a letter. No big deal we thought, but this led to an awkward pause when the judge zeroed in on the wording of the document from “girl k”s’ orphanage. She questioned everyone in the courtroom to ask if we had a problem with a representative standing in for the director (with power of attorney) from girl k’s orphanage being in the hearing. We all said that was no problem, even the 2 jurors/witnesses. Then within 5 seconds, the judge spoke some rapid Ukrainian words, and our facilitator said, “she is telling us to leave and come back on Wednesday March 25th when you have the director and the correct paper from the girl’s orphanage.” All we heard next was the sound of shuffling papers and moving chairs, and lots of quiet Russian mumbling.

We sat for a few minutes in disbelief after the judge swiftly moved out of the courtroom, leaving us all staring at each other. Frankly, both Vickie and I felt nauseated and confused, wondering what just happened. The next few moments for us was really just a blur of words and confusing looks from our children and our facilitator and the people who ventured across town to be present for this court. It seems that the lack of some wording in the document has burned gas money, subway tokens, hot water, taxi fares and people’s time. We don’t know what to say at this point, but God is not unaware of our circumstances, and He is sovereign over time and events. We will apparently wait until Wednesday to try this plan again to have court, so we ask you to pray along with us for strength and victory in the days ahead.

Chris, Vickie, and Kelsey

James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith, produces endurance.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

I think I see movement...

A text message broke into our sleep this morning- it was from our facilitator Yuriy. We finally have a court date. It is scheduled for Friday March 20th at 2:00 p.m. We will fly out on Wednesday March 18th and arrive in Kiev on Thursday March 19th and have court on March 20th. After court, there is a mandatory 10 day wait period. We will be able to pick up the court decree on Tuesday March 31st and then hopefully pick up our 3 new children from the orphanages they have called home for so long. New birth certificates, tax ID's, passports, medical exams, and visas have to be obtained before we climb aboard an aircraft.

Pray along with us that God will sustain the children waiting in orphanage in Ukraine until we return, and pray that our 6 children here in America will have patience until this process is over. Check back soon to follow the conclusion of our journey.

1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called..."