How cold is too cold? That is the question we have been pondering all day long. It has been pretty cold here since we arrived, but nothing it was like today. When we left the hotel this morning, it was so cold that it took my breath away. I literally had to stop and catch my breath upon stepping outside. The actual temperature was -15 degrees F, but a 25 mile per hour wind was blowing along with these temperatures making the wind chill somewhere in the -35 to
-40 degree range. Literally, we were walking along the street with the wind blowing into our eyes so hard that it made our eyes water. Before we could wipe the water out of our eyes, it would freeze, therefore sticking our eyelashes together! This happened all day today and more tonight. We just got back to the hotel from our usual eating spot, Grand Pizza, and noted that it was actually getting colder. I'm not sure what we are in for tonight, but I am sure glad that I am inside and not out on the street. Speaking of out on the street, this city never sleeps. All businesses stay open 24 hours. You can hear people out on the street talking all night. It doesn't get quiet until around 7 am, then everything is peaceful until 1 pm when everyone wakes up and does it all again. It's amazing how much life is different here than it is in the states. I was awake at 4:30 this morning, like always, and I was taking note of this. I have trouble sleeping more than about 5 hours a night when we are here. I'm not sure why, but when I wake up, I lay there awake until the alarm goes off. Leah usually sleeps pretty well. I'm ok with that because she needs it more than me. This morning, at 6:00 am I heard about 30 guys come in from a night out and congregate in our hallway. I just listened for a while, and they eventually retired to their rooms. That is common here. I asked our translator and she acted like we were weird because we weren't like that! Different cultures are interesting in how they contrast with one another. I guess there is room for it all.
Today we got to leave the orphanage with Jonah and take him to take passport photos. When we got to the orphanage he was all bundled up and ready to go. He had on an orange puffer suit, a Russian winter hat, and they had his face wrapped up with a scarf. He was nearly immobalized! All you could see was his eyes. He reminded me of a younger version of that kid off of A Christmas Story. It was classic. We weren't allowed to take him alone, so one of his caretakers had to go with us. The photo studio was about 200 yards from the orphanage, so we trudged through snow and wind to get there. We unbundled him, and he sat on this little stool to take his pictures. The studio was creepy. Picture 80 year old building with dim lighting, 80 year old man with camera, taking pictures in the middle of his living room because he lived in the studio. That kind of creepy. All went well though, and after a 380 ruble deposit, we had our pictures ready to go. Our translator looked at them and told us Jonah looked Russian. (Duh!) haha. She meant that because he didn't smile. She told us that Russians don't really smile in their pictures. She says it's just always been like that. After the pictures we were able to go back to the orphanage and continue our visit with him. He has been pretty sick the last few days. They are pretty convinced that we got him sick. We know he was congested when we got here. Besides, we aren't even sick ourselves! The doctor told us today that she thinks he may have an allergy to our dogs, and gave us a list of medications to get for him. I mean a LIST!! There must have been 6 medications on that list, from costs equivalent to $9 all the way up to costs equivalent to $40. We know Jonah isn't that sick, so we have decided that they are using it as an excuse to get us to buy medications for several of the other kids who are sick but do not have adoptive parents that can spend the type of money it takes for the meds that will make them well again. The doctor told us that the orphanage cannot afford those types of good medicines, and just has to make due with what they have. Either way, it's all good. We are happy to help if they need help, whether they are forthcoming or not! We got his medicines and told him goodbye for the day. It was a good day all in all. The visit was not quite as long as we would like, but any time is cherished and we are thankful for every minute.
We have one more visit tomorrow before catching a 9:05pm flight to Moscow. Tomorrow will be tough. Last time we were here, we were sure that would be the last time we would ever have to come here and leave him when we leave. We didn't know about the law change, and how that would force us to relive what was one of the most devastating things either or us has ever had to expereince, but we are staring at it again. The good news is that it isn't for 3 months this time, but for only 40 days or so. It's such a tough thing to do but it is necessary. I really don't have words to describe it, or even any way to rationalize that we will be okay, but we will get by. Please pray for us heading in to tomorrow. It is sure to be a hard day.
We will fly from Volgograd to Moscow tomorrow night, and from Moscow to Houston on Thursday morning. We will both go right back to work, bright and early, on Friday. It's quite the culture shock going from being here doing what we are doing, to going straight back home and getting back to the ol' grind. It also may be the best way to pass the time. We will try to update tomorrow night, and then at least once when we get home. The update after that won't be until we get our return travel dates, then things will heat up once again. Thanks again for following our story. We are almost finished with our journey, and one more child will have been given a family. Trust me, there are many many more who are in desperate need of a family to love them. If any of you are interested in getting more information about international adoptions, or Russian adoptions specifically, please feel free to email me at Cory.Elder52@gmail.com. I'd love to show you how to get started on the best decision you will ever make.