Sunday, September 30, 2007

Full day

The first part of our day was in Silute at the Free Christian church. We took a Bible professor from LCC along to preach today and Sharon facilitated the worship service. Though the group is smaller now with college age students away in other cities, the sense of community is still heart-warming among them.

After lunch in a pizza restaurant (one we will remember for the future because of the toys/play area for children, we returned to Klaipeda.

We met briefly with another missionary couple who are close to our age working with a Vineyard fellowship. They have a significant ministry to one of the Klaipeda orphanages for older children.

Then we were on to see the boys again and spent a lovely hour down by the sea with them. Yesterday we had opportunity to have them to our home for a few hours over the time for their nap and snack. They remembered and asked if we were going there again. But not this time. We hope it can happen again though before long. And it seems time to talk to the director again about the timing of coming home since the various caregivers at the orhpanage keep encouraging us to take them for a longer time. This has to be one of the more extended visiting periods by foriegners they have seen. Most times this paperwork period and the decision to adopt has all happened before the prospective parents even meet the child.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

day trip

The picture of the boys looking down through the bridge shows their facination with the water they could see below. It really was precious to watch!

Friday, September 28, 2007

day in Silute

Today I, Sharon, was in Silute again. A great day for walking in town and getting to the various shops along the main street. Some good deals in boys clothing, gently used.

Then Gregg was with the teens again as usual on Friday evenings and I joined an informal meeting of pastors in Silute. The fellowships are small but the leaders are meeting monthly for prayer and considering other projects and ways they might live out a witness together in the city. The young Lutheran pastor has a congregation in the historic church in Silute.

I called the home to let them know that we were not coming today and to ask about a trip away tomorrow morning to Palanga. The director was very accomodating and we are looking forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 27, 2007



Can you tell which are our boys? The other is a boy in their group, Andrius

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

choosing names

On Monday we received papers by email from the lawyer at which point we realized that we needed to have the names finalized in order to complete this part of the process. And the application can only go to the judge for a court date after that.

We did have an idea what we wanted to do and we sent some questions about the forms back in an email and also suggested what we were thinking about the names. She replied with answers and questions. That caused us to think a little further. And consult with friends at LCC to for perspective on how the names will fit internationally as well as in Lithuanian usage.

The Lithuanian language requires certain endings and spellings. For the name Erik there will be no problem. And we decided on the middle name Daniel. We hope he will be strong and courageous and he seems to have the beginnings of that kind of personality.

Then the decision for Jevgenij- Eugenijus. Well, it is difficult to pronounce but we did not want to get rid of the name either. I, Sharon, discovered in talking with a good friend that we have been mispronouncing the Lithuanian version too. And with much trying still could not master the "Eu" sound together with the rest of the name. What I was saying was Augenijus. (in case we haven't said so lately, Lithuanian can really be complex!)

The shortened name for either Augenijus or Eugenijus is Augis. This sounds something like ohgis. And the diminutive form of that would be augutis- which may be how Erik began calling his brother Gutai. (if you don't know Lithuanian just skip this paragraph!)

So now we have decided the name will be David Augenijus. It seems that he has a sensitive personality, likes music (well, they both like music) and we hope will have a heart after God.

Today I also functioned as taxi for Erik to go to the Alergy doctor to be tested. Out of 14 things he was tested for, he was only sensitive to egg whites. Though the nurse from the orphanage who went in with Erik to the doctor suggested we still be careful with chocolate since he had trouble with that before.

After playing together later in the day together, the boys found someone in the hall to tell that their "mama" came. The woman asked so where is your father, and they pointed to Gregg. Of course these are precious moments. At the same time we will not be surprised when they call us uncle and aunt again the next time. But the emotional bond is definitely shifting the relationship and they are more interested in pleasing us than they used to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ministry day

Today Gregg preached in Silute and Klaipeda whose services happen at the same time as visiting hours at the orphanage. The message referenced the experience of Moses being called by God to do something he thought he could not do.

Yesterday we had a shortened visit after a full day as well. LCC International University was celebrating 15 years in Klaipeda, the opening of a new state of the art dormitory on campus and the new name. There were many official guests and a nice number of formal greetings and gifts. It was overall an encouraging experience. Sharon's role was to be available to pastors and priests visiting for the occasion. The International students prepared an international fair sharing food from their 20 different countries. And the culmination was the professional Lithuanian music and folk dance group "Lietuva".

The boys got an extra amount of time outside with us and much enjoyed playing "Catch me".

It has been a while since we took any pictures or video, but we'll try to upload a very short video from last week here... The view of Eugenijus with an apple is quite a common one for us since apples keep falling from trees around the orphanage.

Friday, September 21, 2007

we have beds

Yesterday we had mattresses stored in the van when we went to the orphanage (had not gotten home in between). So today when I came alone and we had the discussion about where dede is Erik settled in on the explanation that the van is needed to store the beds for them.

Today was another good day overall, despite cloudy weather. We retreated inside after a while which I was glad for since the intense humidity seems to have stirred up an excess of knats.

The last few times the boys seem to show that they have bonded pretty significantly to me, but they rarely call me mama, sometimes tete, but generally they just find all kinds of excuses to be held or to be caught or somehow have physical contact.

Today I had a hard time leaving for all of their antics to keep from saying goodbye. I usually work to get them changed back into their inside clothes before leaving as the caregivers are more than occupied with the other 10 children.

The caregiver said today that one of the boys went home to a family today and all of the children are a bit uptight. They all wish to have a family. I was able to ask her some other questions about what the boys eat, how they sleep, what to expect with toileting. It basically confirms pieces of information I have gotten over time. She did say that Erik is choosey about eating and does not like soup. And soup is a part of the noon meal each day.

We got an email from the lawyer today too saying that she got information from the orphanage today and will put things together to email us. We will need to sign the application to the court that she prepares for us. Then it is submitted to the court and a judge is assigned. Then the judge makes the court date.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

no court date yet

Everyone is asking these days "did you hear about the court date" and the answer is no. So that means we don't know when we will be able to take the boys home.
But in various ways they are getting new experiences and it is interesting to watch their reactions. Today they began singing spontaneously- seemed so happy and that warmed our hearts.
For as much as they want to get away from their group that they always spend time with, it is also home for them. When they experience something new or exciting, they want to go back to their caregivers to tell them about it. So eventually the separating when they are adopted will have bitter sweet moments too. And it will be hard for them to totally feel where home is for a bit. They will miss their friends and caregivers. So this gradual bonding time is really valuable so they have enough history with us before making a bigger change. For now the bonds to the caregivers are stronger than to us, and we are thankful that they have good caregivers and that the caregivers also try to help the children make transitions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the wonder of straws

Monday was a nicer day and we were encouraged to go on a longer walk outside the territory, down to the train tracks. During the summer the children take this walk and then go to the "corner store" so to speak for ice cream. Well, now it is too cold to eat ice cream this time of year.

On the way back through there was another cafe with outside seating so we got them a juice, asked for it split in 2 glasses and the server added straws when Gregg said it was for children. Definitely a first for Eugenijus who took quite a while to figure out how to suck from the straw.

It is definitely interesting to watch the times the boys experience something for the first time!

And we were glad for a good visit- even more than 2 hours. Of course the daily question had to be answered about if we are going to take them home. I told Erik that we got beds for them but there are more things to get, like clothes and food. What kind of food does he like? Well, meat, mashed potatoes, bread... pretty typical Lithuanian answer. Hotdogs? yes. Cucumbers? yes. The caregivers say they eat well. We will just have to stay away from eggs- allergies.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, I Sharon, made the mistake of putting the boys up to sit on my shoulders- one at a time of course. But my neck is not as strong as it once was. So now I am struggling with significant neck pain that affects my sleeping and day time activities.

The visit Sunday was ok, but since the weather prohibits outside activity and the larger room was already taken there was only so much we could do in a small space with the boys. So the visit was shorter. Again hit by the question--"Are you taking us home?" Gregg is feeling the strain of the boys relating and responding more to me because of the language. And with the behavior that needs directing it just does not seem to work to use English within the orphanage setting.

It is really emotionally challenging to be where we are in this right now. Guess it will be emotionally challenging in other ways when we have them at home full time too.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Learning how to calm down

Our morning visit probably suprised the boys as they are used to afternoon, but they were quite happy to have us and we feel grateful that the teachers are accomodating and always find a space for us to be with them without all of the other children.

After observing that they can get rather wound up and don't know how to calm down, we started a sit out time when needing to correct behavior. And after explaining what needs to change we count to 10 slowly and then they are free to go. This really helped them to behave well over all today.

Erik once again asked why we are not taking him home. Both boys resist the parting, but they have found other ways than crying. They resist helping to clean up toys and finally refuse to put their shoes back on to go upstairs from the play area where they have to take their shoes off. Erik even took his socks off purposefully today and refused to put them on. So a caregiver's intervention finally got him reunited with the group since it was already lunch time and others were waiting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Are you going to take us home?

The direct question had not surfaced for maybe a week, but Erikas did want to know. And I said yes, someday we will take you home. First we have some things to prepare, and we want to teach you some English, and you need to learn to listen to us when we visit.

Of course it did not come out quite like that in Lithuanian, but that was the idea.

Today was inside play and we were offered the sleeping area which also has a small table in each of the two sleeping rooms, one for the speech therapist, one for the teacher. So, I did get to see puzzles, blocks, other toys for playing house that we had not seen before.

The teacher/caregiver today said that Eugenijus was using the play cell phone to call "dede" for him to come before I arrived. They had both been waiting- but this time it was just "tete" that came to visit.
She says both boys anticipate our coming after their afternoon naps now. And they are different when they "know" we are coming- it took it to mean their behavior is better or at least more desirable to the caregivers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Swing time

Today we played outside. The boys wanted to look for fallen apples under the apple trees, but they were mostly not yet ripe ones. Erik found one nicely red apple that made Eugenijus wish he had one, so he looked harder. There weren't many, so when the boys weren't looking, I picked a red one off the tree, and rolled it close to Eugenijus. He was delighted!

We also played on the swings, and that was great fun until Erik's foot caught on the ground under the swing. The swings have a place for the children to put their feet to keep this from happening, but Erik put his foot in front of it, hitting the ground and hurting his foot. He had to cry about it for a minute, and it really did hurt. I held him and then Sharon held him, so we could both comfort him.

At one point, Eugenijus wanted one of the swings, and his brother was also going for that swing. Eugenijus cried out "I, I, I! Man, man man!", which appeared to be English ("I, I, I!) and then Lithuanian "Man, man, man! (for me, for me, for me!). There is a sound that is similar to the "I" that we heard, but this sounded distinctly like the English "I". Young children do pick up languages quickly, but this would be exceptionally fast. We haven't used English too much, but we have used it and talked among ourselves. We may never know if it was English or not, but if Eugenijus continues to use it or starts with other words soon...

The rest of the visit went well. I again helped Erik "take a leak", as males prefer to say, and it is good to see that Erik knows when he needs to pee, even if it is only 15 seconds before he needs to. We played some more and the boys drew on some paper with larger washable markers that we brought along. This time the workers prepared Erik and he escorted us half-way down the steps on our way out. Maybe he has become accustomed to our leaving and no longer will need to struggle so much, confident that we will return again another day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2 word sentences

After the visit on Tuesday I asked the caregiver about when I could observe the speech therapist with Eugenijus. She said that the speech therapist just recently finished working with him and wrote up a final report. Since we've been visiting, Eugenijus began using 2 word sentences and his pronounciation is good. So I think that is progress! The speech therapy will be needed for the forseeable future for Erikas though. His pronouciation is not very good and it is hard to understand many times. I think he is talking more too, but still is not really easier to understand.

We are going evenings this week when we can. Tonight was a community event for LCC so we'll go again tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rainy day

This is the kind of day that usually does not make it into newsletters. Rainy, cool, dark. We are tired. The weekend was good and the time in Siauliai excellent (particularly experiencing the ministry of the band we were facilitating.) But, today was kind of blah. And the boys took most of the whole hour we were there to warm up to us. We had not been there since Saturday morning.
But at the end we had at least a picture to show for it! The large stuffed animal is a monkey- just not turned the right way for this picture.
Plus their highlight of the day was that we brought juice for them to drink.- remind me to take wipes with me next time!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

pictures are today's post

Sandbox play today, our van in the background.
We are reserving energy now for a trip to Siauliai tomorrow. The Corey Doak band from Canada plays contemporary Christian music and worship. Their ministry at LCC and to churches we relate to in being a blessing. Sharon's work involved helping to coordinate their tour. Last night's event with 1000 young people was their best yet- they say the best they have ever had- seeing people open and responding to God's spirit. Praise God! The group will be here for another week.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Kur dede?- Sharon's visit

Today Gregg had his first youth meeting of the season in Silute so I went on my own to see the boys. Of course they asked where Gregg was, referring to him as uncle as they usually do.

The weather was warm enough to be outside comfortably and we take advantage of this knowing that it will soon not be so inviting outside.

I took newsprint along that my mother had offered us before returning to Lithuania. I taped two pieces together and had each of the boys lay down to be traced. Then we added body parts and clothing with Crayola minikids First Markers (superwashable) that I found in Lithuania.

I also read them a little book in English. "God always cares" It has good pictures so we went through it the second time to identify things in the pictures in Lithuanian.

The caregiver from yesterday when Gregg left was working again today and she came to greet the children and me before she started her shift. She had to come outside to help get the boys inside at the end of the visit, but this time it was accomplished without tears.

There is so much potential for pouring into these precious little lives. May God grant us wisdom and grace to understand and to model and guide- and to introduce them to the source of all love!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gregg's visit

When I got there they were already outside with the rest of the group. They were each on a riding toy so I tickled each one and then started to lead them away from the rest of the group so we would have time by ourselves.

When we got away from the group the first question Erik asked was "kur tete?" (where is auntie) and I paused before answering. So he asked again- this time "kur mamyte?"(where is mommy). So I told him mommy is working and he asked "kur"(where)? I told him in the university. That seemed to satisfy him but I'm not sure he really knew what a University was.

We looked at some apples growing there, they tried to shake some down from the tree and they found one low enough to shake a couple of apples down. Then they wanted to taste them and thought they tasted sour. I tried to tell them that they would not taste good from the tree because they aren't ready yet, but it did not matter to them-- it was just fun to knock the apples off the tree.

We played "chase me" so I chased them and then got them to chase me- Erik chased me and Eugenijus chased Erik :-). When I got tired I tried to change to another game.

Erik seems to be learning about how long our visits are. When it was about time to leave he did not want to walk anywhere near the door into the orphanage. As I started to go towards the door, he did not want me to hold his hand, saying I know how, I can walk by myself, but I knew if I left go, he would run the other direction. So, I held his hand as I walked toward the front door and he tried to pull another direction. I just kept walking toward the door and once he realized that he could not pull me another way, he started to walk with me crying loudly. All of the orphanage were open because it was a warm day. As we got to the door he started to say "nenoriu, nenoriu" (I don't want to), but we had to go in. It was loud enough that the caretaker met me half way down the steps to take the boys upstairs to their room. So I kissed them goodbye and left quickly.

The visit went well on the whole. At one point Erik felt a call to nature so I felt like a daddy as I helped him respond to that call. It was good to be with the boys myself for once. The language was not always easy, but we found a way to communicate. The hard part was leaving- it tugs on the heartstrings knowing that Erik was so upset about my leaving.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

a tentative timeline

Our lawyer wrote today to answer questions we had (and many of our friends have) about the timing of the adoption procedings and when we will have the children living with us.

Basically, it looks like the papers should be together and ready to file at the end of September. A possible court date can be assigned soon after that- probably court date the end of October. The final stage of the adoption would be complete in December (40 days after the court date).

So we expect sometime in October the boys will be coming to live with us.

Until then we visit and get to know their personalities and characters that have developed so far. And get to know the caregivers and the training methods they have been using.

Today we took the boys on a long walk to the beach. Well not so long for adults, but with young ones it is a little different. And we did a bit of shopping for clothes in the afternoon along with pastor Modestas' wife Ramune who took us to places she shops in Silute that are definitely cheaper than the stores we were in on Saturday.

This evening we met with the Silute church council as well and returned late, so we'll have to write more another time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

This picture is from a couple of days ago. The weather has been really wet. And yesterday the place outside that had shovels and buckets was locked. So instead we had a prolonged game of hide and seek with many hugs and kisses in between. It does make a rucuss when we show up so the caregivers are taking to getting us out with the boys where the others don't see us as soon as possible.

We set up beds yesterday that will eventually be used as bunk beds once the boys are a little older. They may even want to sleep together in one bed at first someone suggested today.

Monday, September 3, 2007

We've decided!

Today we told the Klaipeda Child Rights office that we have decided to adopt the boys! (Our hearts were already saying yes after the first couple of visits- but we needed to make it official)

From our earlier visit at this office, we heard that it is possible and desirable for us to have the boys live with us even before the court date. However, when talking to the director today, we got a different story. Since the baby house is legally responsible for the children until the court date, the director was not excited about having the children away from the home there.

We don't know how long it will take to get documents registerd and get a court date. So now we readjust our thinking again... and we know we have more time for adjustments and getting ready. The director suggests we can tell the boys that we cannot take them now because we are getting something ready, or getting something at the store.

So, we are a little disappointed because it was starting to look like things could move significantly in the next 2 weeks, but probably that is not the case.

We will benefit from the time to get to know the boys routines, likes and dislikes, behaviour tendencies and so on. And for us to build some stamina, after all they are little boys!

So far we do know that they get up at 8am and have breakfast, at 9:30 there is snack, at 12 is lunch, at 3:30 is snack after nap time, and 7:30pm is supper at which point their schedule slows down in preparation for bed by 8:30 or 9.

They are well trained to cooperate in a group (except when they are excited in the presence of visitors). Today the speech therapist told me that the children may not like going to preschool because local preschools are run basically the same way as the orphanage and it may be memories they try to get away from.

The speech therapist says both boys are developing well intellectually and the few sounds they have difficulty pronouncing should develop better with time. (getting r and t mixed up or being unclear seems like the same challenges other preschool children I've known have)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sunday Visit- 4th visit and the 1st one totally inside

Today we stayed inside the Orphanage due to the weather. All the other visits were partially outside in the play area. After a few minutes, the staff person took us to a separate room where we could be by ourselves with the boys.

When we entered the room, there was a "tunnel" made of large cushions. The boys immediately ran to them and crawled inside. We reached inside through the "windows" to tickle them, and they delighted in scambling away, which was towards the other one of us--and of course, scambling back after that person tried to tickle them.

We played with different toys, including some musical instuments. Erik was rather good at playing with a "mouth organ", if that is what it is called. He blew in one end of it and along the side there is a small piano keyboard--about an octave--which played a different pitch when each key was pressed. Erik "doodled" a little on it, then played the white keys in order, playing a complete "C" scale. We were impressed that he would play the 8 keys one at a time in a row.

Jevgenij really enjoyed a book that we brought. He carried it around everywhere and several times wanted to look at it and have us read parts of it to him. Jevgenij's name is Russian, and the equivalent in Lithuanian is Eugenijus. He responds better to that name and it is what the staff all call him, so we have also taken to calling him Eugenijus (pronounced you-gen-i-yus, and the "g" is like the g sound in "girl").

Of significance to us, the boys are starting to think of us as parents. When we first arrived, Eugenijus called Sharon "mama", melting her heart. A few times throughtout the evening, I also heard him call her "mama". Right before we left I was holding both boys, one on each knee. The one care-taker asked Erik where "mama" was. He pointed forward to Sharon. Then she asked where "papa" was, and he pointed behind himself to me, melting my heart.