A taxi took us to Tamara’s apartment where she was waiting outside for us. “Inside?” Sure that cake and tea waited and not being able to stomach that again at 10:00 in the morning, I pointed to the car and said “Bill.” “Okay,” she answered and we went upstairs to find Katya. As soon as we entered the apartment, the scurrying of feet told me that Katya was playing her favorite game, “Find Me.” While I’m sure there is spiritual significance to this, there wasn’t time to ponder the deeper reality. The taxi was waiting. “E-dee-su-dah, Katya. Taxi. Papa. Apartment. E-dee-su-dah.” Out she comes, hair wild, ready to go. Tamara hands me a tote bag with clothes, chocolate things, and rolls, since Bill and I would not come inside for cake and tea.
“Rada! Katya rada!” Tamara proclaims as she kisses my face and hugs my neck. I believe she is telling me that Katya is happy. That makes me happy.
Off we go, risking life and limb, in the taxi, back to the apartment where we are faced with the challenge of a very excited 8-year old, a very small apartment, and pouring down raine. Beads, Aquadoodle – all very well and good. But, out from the back of the “Musha” (Mouse) backpack comes a McDonald’s toy. But, it’s broken. Katya works forever to fix it and won’t accept help, before suffering meltdown. Having seen this before, I rub her back a bit, let her be, rub her back a bit, pick her up hold her, clear away the offending “machina” (car), rub her back, and just wait.
Liliya calls! YEY Liliya! We LOVE Liliya and she’s going to meet us for lunch at Top Sandwich. Katya’s still in a funk, but we manage to get coat and hat on and get out the door. We fill in Liliya on Katya’s funk, and, at Liliya’s prodding, Katya proceeds to tell her, “Mama broke my car!” WHAT? I broke the car?
Onto the Dolphin Show down by the Black Sea.
Katya’s still being pleasant, obviously, but the promise of the Dolphin Show cheers her a bit, along with some “Monster Tickle Games” from Papa.
The Dolphin Show was amazing. We really wish all the kids had been there for this. They don’t mind missing out on the hours spent in the hallway of government offices, but seals and dolphins …. that’s another story.
Okay, so she was really swinging this seal around …
… and when she put him down, he wasn’t even dizzy.
These girls are actually SURFING on the noses of the dolphins!
And when they are done with the ride, the dolphins just pop them up on the side of the pool.
Back to the apartment for Uno, magnetic paper dolls, beads, etc. before heading out to our new favorite, City Pizza, or Pizza City, I can’t ever remember, NOT for shellfish pizza. But score one for the parents. Katya refuses to hold my hand to walk in middle of the street where taxis scream in and out at 100 mph. Unacceptable, for no other reason than safety. We offer the ultimatum “Hold Mama’s hand – Pizza. Nyet hold Mama’s hand – apartment.” It took a bit of time, patience, persistence, and movement toward the apartment, but Katya saw that we were serious, took my hand, and we headed out.
At City Pizza/Pizza City Katya proceeded to draw some of the better pictures Bill and I have ever had drawn of ourselves – quite scary, not at all flattering, and could have shaken our confidence in our ability to parent had we not BTDT with six others, and been unafraid of the less that affirming artistry. All the while, Bill and I are smiling, drawing “Katya Butterfly Princess” pictures, and writing “Mama and Papa LOVE Katya” in Cyrillic. Eventually she comes around, takes off her hat, eats a pound of pistachios, a piece of pizza, well, really the pizza crust, and the Black Forest Dessert thing that she ate the night that she also ordered shellfish pizza.
All the while, Bill and I are remembering how fresh out of the orphanage we all are. Don’t we all stamp our feet and refuse to hold the Father’s hand? Don’t we blame Him for breaking the “machina” when we really broke it ourself? Don’t we eat up our dinner AND dessert without a “Thank you” to the One who gave it to us? And yet, as we come back home, and she walks hand in hand with her Papa, and then trusts Mama enough to help her shower, get on her pj’s, brush her hair, and brush her teeth, I know there is hope, not only for Katya, but for all of us.
We may be be fresh out of the orphanage, but that doesn’t change the Father’s love for us. While we were still His enemies, He died for us….He DIED for us. He paid the ultimate ransom to break us out of the prison of the orphanage.
Now, Bill and I, are having the privilege of coming face to face with the Father’s love for us, and by His strength alone, we are falteringly laying aside our fragile emotions, dying to self, and choosing to love one who doesn’t yet know how to love. Loveable she may be …
… and yet we aren’t relying on that to enable us to stay the course and love like Jesus. When the stench of the orphanage swirls around, it is only His love poured out by the Spirit that enables us to pour out love that we pray is a fragrant offering before the throne, and the aroma of life to the precious one before us.