Thank you for your many many prayers! This was a very hard trip (physically, mentally and emotionally not to mention spiritually). I knew Rommy was suppose to go on this trip but I struggled because I just didn't know why I was suppose to go. The week we were to leave, we rec'd an email telling us Ihar was in some trouble and we may not get to see him. Only no one told us what the problems were. But God always has a plan and He orders our steps. I went in obedience to Him.
We arrived at the train station and were met by Sergei, Anzhelika and Liza. Once we arrived at their house they had a "feast" prepared for us to eat and then Anzhelika said "lets go get Ihar". I was beyond happy at this point! We met with his social worker and a teacher. As we were invited to tea and candies, we listened in Russian all what was going on. Of course we did not understand it, but we could tell by voice tone and facial expressions it was not good.
But they let him come with us and we had him the entire time (PRAISE GOD).
Only when we were able to get alone with him and use the dictionaries were we able to figure out some of what transpired. The first 2 days he put up a wall with us as he was ashamed of his actions and thought we couldn't love him anymore. We continued to show him and tell him many many many times each day we loved him and always would no matter what. I also had a chance to find out if Ihar knows God. Yes, he knows Him, but he has not asked him into his heart. He understands and now God needs to work in his heart.
I will not go into his problems but there are many. He is a 13 year old boy who feels he has no one in the world and wants to protect himself from being hurt anymore. He has made some bad choices but we are all human and God loves this little boy. The last night we were there, he wrote us (Mama and Papa) a letter in Russian telling us everything in his heart. He was completely honest and confessed to us what all he had done. He also told us he knew how much we love him and wants desperately to come live with us. There was a translator on the bus to Minsk and she read the letter to us. (that's God again)! We also were able to have a heart to heart talk with him using Tatiana to translate for us. He knows we can't adopt him, but he wants us to pursue a student visa. He also knows the summer program has yet to open up for orphans. For Ihar to do this and be honest, is a HUGE step in TRUST.
We endured much spiritual battle as we are seeking to gain an educational visa for him. But even though there is much battle for our son and his eternal destiny, God is greater and with your prayers, we were able to accomplish Step 1 by meeting with the Director of his school. We met no open opposition and he even tried to help us by making some phone calls and getting back with Tatiana (our chaperone and good friend). We came home with addresses and know where to start. Step 2 came when Ihar told us this is his desire. God will reveal the next steps one by one in the days ahead and we will see. Everyone there warned me this would be almost impossible with a 99.9% chance it will not come to pass. But our answer to everyone was, "with God all things are possible".
We were told not to bring him things, but I couldn't stand watching him wear clothes that were too small, so I gave him the one outfit, coat, gloves, hat I brought him. And just before I left, I gave him the rap cap and hip hop shoes he wanted. We spent most of the money we would have used on things for him and took him out to eat alot (much against our host family). I also brought him some treats such as American candy, cotton candy and I brought him popcorn!
Just spending time with him and being able to hug him, kiss him and tell him "i love you" brought such joy to our hearts.
Now I will share with you some of the highlights from our trip:
1. Seeing my son
2. Listening to him say "I love you too" or "I love you more"
3. Seeing his smile & eyes light up!
4. Watching God work in getting all our luggage to Belarus and ours was not lost like some of the other folks. And we were not charged with all the extra bags of medical supplies. It just went through with no ?'s asked! And seeing the excitement at Cherikov when they saw all the supplies we brought! It was like we gave them 1 million dollars!!!!!
5. Seeing all the orphans and watching them sing and dance for us. They even got me to participate in some of the songs and dances!
6. Being able to share my heart with those on the trip and with Ihar.
7. The "pet rat" is NO LONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8. Being able to use an indoor toilet unlike some of those on the trip who had to go outside in the frigid weather!
9. Being able to sleep because of some wonderful meds I had with me! (as you remember last year I was unable to sleep)
10. Watching the snow fall and reminding myself God made each snow flake different just as he makes each of us
11. Spending time with Tatiana!
12. Being able to help 3 orphanages with a little bit of financial help
13. Talking on the phone with Cheri's daughter, Anastashia.
14. Getting to know new people who have a heart for these kids.
15. Seeing how God continues to work in Zack's life and I'm just so proud of the man he is becomming. He did a beautiful job keeping everyone updated on what all was going on.
16. Fixing all the gifts for the orphans! And seeing their excitement when we gave out gifts!
The list could go on and on .....!
I will tell you this, the situation with Ihar and the Atroshkin family is not what I hoped it would be. And things are a bit strained between us right now. God alone knows what Ihar needs and we are going to trust Him that He will be able to accomplish His perfect will in Ihar's life. We did not go into this trip seeking to bring him to America now. We had always hoped he would be able to come when he turns 18. However, things have escalated and the timing needs to be now. Please pray with us as we seek to do God's will. It will not be an easy task.
Love you all! Marta