To Russia For Love, Part 3

 

By Laura A. Jones



This is the third part of a transcript of the hand-written journal I kept when my husband and I traveled to Russia to adopt our daughter, Makayla. To go to Part 1 or Part 2, click here:

Part 1

Part 2

 

Tuesday
11 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

Today was sort of a sad day because you got sick.  We arrived at the orphanage at about 10:00.  We brought candy for the children, and you passed it out to them.  We brought you downstairs to play, but you seemed very tired.  We asked you if you slept okay, and you said, “yes.”  After your English lesson, we gave you applesauce, but it took you a long time to eat it.  We taught you how to play Sleepy Tiger, and then we showed you how to do the Hokey Pokey.  One of the ladies who works at the orphanage was watching us, and then she told Marsha to ask me to write down the words to Hokey Pokey so that she could teach it to the children.  I wrote down the words, and then Marsha translated it for her.

The classroom at the orphanage that Makayla’s group used.  They also ate their meals at those two tables.


We left the orphanage at 11:30 because we had reservations for lunch at the same hotel where we ate last Tuesday.  The waitress came in and brought big salads for Dad and myself, but for some reason they didn’t bring those same salads for you or Marsha or Victor.  The three of you were supposed to share a cucumber tomato salad that was set in the center of the table.  We asked Marsha why they were not serving all of us the same.  She didn’t know, but I felt sort of awkward with a special salad when you and the other adults were not offered the same.  After the salad, you were the only one who wanted soup.  They brought you the soup, but you barely touched it.  This is when we started to think you might be sick.  The main dish came, but you did not want it.  You just wanted to lie down on the chairs at the side of the room.  When we ordered ice cream, you said that you wanted some, but when it came, I couldn’t get you to take even one bite.

Makayla and me at the restaurant.


Before we left the restaurant, we ordered a cake for the party on Friday, and then we drove back to the orphanage.  I could tell that you felt warm, so we stopped in the doctor’s office.  The nurse looked at your throat and said it was red.  Another nurse sprayed something in your mouth, and you made a face as if it tasted awful.  They said you were beginning to get a cold and that you needed rest.  We took you upstairs, undressed you, and said “good-bye” to you.


In the afternoon, Tamara picked us up at about 3:00.  Since we knew you would probably be sleeping for a long time, we decided to get some shopping done for the party.  We first went to a paper goods store.  We bought napkins, plates, cups, and plastic forks.  The stores here sell things by the individual pieces instead of by the package.  Instead of buying a package of cups or forks, I told them how many I wanted, and they charged us for each piece.  It was the same way in the grocery store the other day.  I needed some paper cups to brush my teeth.  They had been taken out of the package and were sitting on the shelf.  I pointed to the cups and told Tamara I wanted to buy them.  The clerk asked how many I wanted.  I said, “The whole stack.”  They had to count out the cups, and I was charged for each separate cup!  Anyway, after we bought the paper goods for the party, we went to another store to buy more bottled water and some juice for the party.  We didn’t get to the orphanage until about 4:00.  All the kids in your group were outside.  Mama Leda came over to tell us that you were asleep and that it probably wasn’t a good idea to visit with you today.  Since we had time to spare, we played with the children for about 40 minutes.  They love to see us.  They call us Mama and Papa, and they run up and hug us and kiss us and hold our hands.  A lot of the kids want Daddy to lift them in the air.  Some of the girls like to play clapping games with me.  The children are really cute.  I wish they all could have homes with parents.


We  were told by the orphanage doctor that you would be alright, and that we could come back tomorrow to see you.  On the way home, Tamara had Victor stop at a couple of dress shops because I had wanted to see what the clothing stores looked like.  They were both very small stores, but the clothes looked nice.  Tamara said that the clothes come from South Korea.  After this, we stopped at Tatyana’s apartment to pick up two movies which are in English.  We will watch one of them tonight.  I hope you are feeling better soon.  I love you!


Wednesday
12 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

This morning I was watching out the window at some ladies who are sweeping the street.  They are out there every morning with brooms made out of tree branches.  They are working hard to keep the road clean, but as I watch them, it seems to me that their efforts are futile.  The roads are full of cracks and holes, and the entire scene (buildings, yards, etc.) looks as though it is not maintained, and so it just seems useless to try to sweep up the dirt on the street each day.  But I guess they have pride in what little they have, and they are doing their best to make it as nice as possible.  Yesterday morning when we woke up, we looked out the window and everything was white.  Snow had been falling the night before, and even the roads were covered with several inches of snow.  Yesterday the sweeper ladies were shoveling snow off the road.  Today they are back to sweeping it again.  Life in California is so very different.  Another thing I’ve noticed about Russia is that there is a lot of useless metal lying around.  For instance, from our window, we can see 7 or 8 swing sets, but not one of them has a swing on it.  All that is left are the rusty frames.  When we go to pick up Marsha at her apartment, there are more of these same rusty swing set frames with no swings.  They are completely useless to anyone, but they just sit there day after day as if no one ever considered removing them.  There is a house near the orphanage that has an old car in front of it.  Actually, it’s not even a car anymore because there is nothing left but the frame—no seats, no windows, no tires, no doors.  It can’t possibly be useful for anything, but yet it just sits there.


This morning we stopped at the post office on the way to the orphanage.  We called home and found out that everybody is doing fine.  Next we headed to the orphanage.  We weren’t sure how you would be feeling, but they told us you were doing better and that it was okay for you to spend the day with us at Gaya’s apartment.  We had such a wonderful day with you.  You were feeling much better, and you smiled and laughed a lot.  This was the first time we had you dressed in your American clothes since we got your haircut on Monday.  You looked adorable!  You let me hold you in my lap for a long time, and I loved it.  Tamara was gone for awhile, and you started talking away while you were sitting in my lap.  Dad and I didn’t know what you were saying, but both you and Olga were laughing.  Olga was able to tell us that you were telling a story about a grandma with three noses.  You are so funny.  We love you so very much.  I asked you through Tamara if you knew what was going to happen on Friday.  “The party!” you answered.  Then I asked you if you knew what was going to happen the next day (which is the day we will be picking you up at the orphanage to bring you home with us forever).  You couldn’t remember what was going to happen that day.  I’m not sure you really understand or believe that in a few more days you will no longer be living at the orphanage.  But you do understand what a party is, and you are very excited about that.  I can’t wait to see you again tomorrow.

With Makayla in Gaya’s apartment.


On the way home from the orphanage, we were driving along the road when all of a sudden Tamara said, “Oh, the militia!”  I looked up ahead, and there were two men standing in the middle of the road.  They were wearing some official-looking uniforms, and one of them stuck out a white baton.  Then Tamara said, “Oh, they are going to pull us over.”  Victor pulled to the side of the road and got out of the car.  I started to get a little nervous thinking that if they noticed we were Americans, they might start asking a lot of questions.  Victor showed his license, and then the officer asked him to open the trunk.  That is where we had put our big bag with our passports and all of our adoption papers.  Dad said, “Oh no, now they are going to go through all of our stuff.”  But the officer just took a quick look and said we could go.  Victor asked him what was going on, and the officer answered, “Everything is the same.”  Tamara asked me if they ever have these kinds of searches in the U.S.  I told her that if the police ever had to stop cars to search for something, they would not be allowed to do it without some sort of explanation.  Victor told us he believes they are doing random searches because of the war in Chechnya.  Apparently there have been threats of terrorism, and they are taking precautions.


Thursday
13 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

This morning Daddy is sick.  Actually we were both feeling a little queasy yesterday.  We took some Pepto Bismol tablets, and I started feeling better, but Daddy just got worse.  He didn’t eat much dinner last night.  He took some of the generic antibiotics that we got from the doctor before we left.  He keeps saying that he can’t wait to get to Moscow because we will be staying in the American hotel, and the food should be better quality.  We will be leaving Birobidzhan in six more days.


I wanted to write a little about the paper here in Russia.  All of the paper I have seen is very poor quality.  Yesterday Tamara brought us some legal documents to sign for your visa and your new birth certificate.  The paper was so thin, it was almost transparent.  It was just a little thicker than tissue paper.  It seemed so strange to be signing a legal document on paper that might easily rip.  At the post office, the paper that is provided to write down the phone number you want to call is no bigger than one inch by two inches, and on that paper you need to write your name, phone number, destination of the call, and how long you want to talk.  They are being careful not to waste even an inch of paper.  It sort of makes me feel wasteful.  Actually, the only nice paper I’ve seen since we’ve been here is the paper I brought for you to play with and draw on.  You really like to work with paper and crayons.  Yesterday you and I made some pictures together.  We made a Christmas scene, an Easter scene, and a Halloween scene, and then Tamara told you all about Halloween.  You practiced knocking on the door and saying “Trick or Treat.”  You told us you wanted to be a princess for Halloween.  Then you went and got the Candy Land game and pointed to Queen Frostine.  You wanted to be her for Halloween.


We arrived at the orphanage at about 10:00 this morning.  We played with you in the director’s office because the conference room was being used for a meeting, and there were music classes going on in the music room.  We brought you the little teddy bear box puzzle where you can change the clothes and faces on the teddy bears.  You liked this.  We tried to play Old Maid, but for some reason, you always want to be the old maid, and so you take the card out of the deck and hide it, and of course then there is no point to the game.  We keep telling you that whoever ends up with the old maid card is the loser, but you still want it.  You are a funny little girl, and we love you very much.  We went outside to play with the children.  This was our last time to play with the kids outside because tomorrow is the party, and on Saturday you will be coming home with us.

The children playing on the orphanage playground.  The woman is one of the teachers.


At 12:00, we took you back inside for lunch, and we told you we would be back after your lunch and nap.  Tamara picked us up at 2:30, and we stopped at the florist to get some flowers to take to the lady at the Educational Department who has been working on our adoption.  Her name is Valentina.  Anyway, all of the flower arrangements at the florist had large curly crepe paper things wrapped around the flowers.  Each one was a very bright color, and it almost dominated the flowers.  We bought white mums with a purple crepe paper holder wrapped around them.  We made a quick stop at the Department of Education.  There was a guard at the front door, and Tamara showed something that looked like a passport.  Valentina was on the 5th floor, so we followed Tamara over to the elevator.  While we were waiting, Daddy said, “That is an awfully small elevator door!”  I looked at the door and realized that it was quite tiny.  When the elevator arrived, we learned why the door was so small.  The three of us had to squish together to fit into it.  We have never been in such a small elevator before.  Anyway, it worked, and so we took the flowers to Valentina and thanked her for helping us with our adoption.  Next, we headed for the orphanage to pick you up.  I gave Mama Leda some lollipops for the children in your group.  You were wearing a cute little green dress with white polka dots.  It is the cutest dress we have seen you wearing at the orphanage.


On the way back to Gaya’s apartment, we stopped at the paper goods store because I wanted to buy some baggies to put the children’s candy in for the party tomorrow.  I bought 14 baggies (you can’t just buy a box of them).  I also bought a tablecloth to put on the table that I am going to set the cake on.  We came back to Gaya’s apartment and changed your clothes.  Daddy always likes to see you in your American clothes.  You do look cute in them.  Gaya’s other grandson, who is 8 years old, was here, and you played with him a little and shared your snacks with him.  Before taking you back to the orphanage, we called Sue Vogler.  She is from Pennsylvania and is here in Birobidzhan to adopt a 10-year-old girl.  I met Sue over the Internet after Sybil Guetersloh told me she would be in Birobidzhan at the same time as us.  Anyway, we are planning to meet Sue and her husband for lunch on Saturday at the hotel.  We will have you with us, of course, because that is the day you get to move in with us.  Sue is going to see if they can bring their daughter also.


After dinner tonight, Daddy and I played Yahtzee.  That is how we pass the time when we are not spending it with you or doing something else.  Tamara has also been bringing us movies in English.  She has just a few of them, but she has managed to borrow 2 or 3 more from some of the other interpreters.  I am about ready to put the candy for the party into the baggies, and I will also iron the pretty blue dress that I brought for you to wear.  I can’t wait to see how pretty you will look in it.  Tomorrow will be an exciting day!


Friday
14 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

Today was an exciting day.  When we got to the orphanage, all the children were on a bus.  The teacher came over and told us that the children were being taken to the Children’s Center.  Tamara had told us that they have a pool there, and they offer different kinds of classes for children there.  You were waiting inside the orphanage for us, and we got you ready and brought you to Gaya’s apartment.  The first thing we did was to give you a bath.  When we told you it was time for a bath, you said, “I am going to swim in there.”  You weren’t kidding.  I never saw a kid so excited about taking a bath.  I guess when you only have a bath once a week, they are a lot of fun.  Anyway, you were all over the place in that tub.  You rolled around in the water and you tried to swim.  You asked if you could get your hair wet, and then you put your head under the water and rolled around some more.  I got you all washed up, including your hair, and then we got you dressed.  We dried your hair and fixed it.  You looked so cute!


We worked on English phrases today instead of just memorizing words from the picture book.  You liked this method much better.  Olga served lunch a little early because we wanted you to take an early nap before the party this afternoon.  About 40 minutes after we put you down for a nap, we heard you opening the bedroom door.  I went over to you, and you said you needed to go to the bathroom.  After that, you came right over to the bed and started making it up as if you had no intention of going back to sleep.  I don’t think you ever went to sleep.  You were just too excited about the party.  We let you come out to play, but there was no interpreter, and you started to misbehave a little.  You kept playing with Gaya’s telephone even though we were telling you not to.  Daddy decided you needed a time-out, and so he held you in his lap for about two minutes.  When he let you down, you went right back over to the phone again, and so you got another two minute time-out on Daddy’s lap.  After this, you did not go back to the phone, but instead you got out your paper and glue.  We told you that you were a good girl, and you played until it was time to get ready for the party.  When we got out your party dress, you understood this to mean that it was almost time for the party, and you let out a little scream of delight.  We got you ready, and you looked so pretty.  We put on the blue coat, the little black boots and the white hat and gloves.  You looked absolutely adorable!

Makayla dressed up and ready to go to the party on her last full day at the orphanage.


When Victor and Tamara came, we stopped at the hotel to pick up the cake.  They had decorated it in the shape of a teddy bear that is on a very famous Russian cartoon.  Unfortunately, the bakery did not have a box for large cakes, and the cardboard it was on was sort of flimsy, so Daddy had to balance it on his lap.  Our next stop was the beauty parlor where we had an appointment to have your hair done for the party.  They fixed it up really cute with a french braid just behind your bangs, and they teased the rest of it to make it look nice and full.  When Tamara told Victor to take us to the orphanage next, you clapped your hands with excitement.  As soon as Victor stopped the car, you ran into the orphanage and upstairs to your group.  You probably ran up there to show them your hair and your dress.  The children came downstairs to put on their play for us in the music room.  It was a cute play, and all of the children were dressed in costumes.  Most of them were animals.  You were a frog.  The children invited us to dance with them, and then we took everything upstairs to decorate the room while the children played downstairs.

The children performing their play for us.


Makayla as the frog.


The play continues. . . 


The end of the play.


We put the tables together and covered them with the vinyl tablecloths we bought so that the children could all sit together at one big table.  Next, we put the paper flowers in the center of the table, and we put out the red plates, pink napkins, forks and cups.  Each child also got a bag with four kinds of candy in it.  We put the cake on a separate table.  When the children came in, their eyes lit up, and they ran right over to the table and sat down.  We served the cake, and when I looked at the plates 5 minutes later, I noticed that every child ate all of their cake.  After we cleaned up the plates, we had Tamara tell the children that I would hand out gifts to the girls, and Daddy would hand out gifts to the boys.  When I started handing out the Barbie dolls to the girls, they were all extremely excited.  Daddy told me how the boys were jumping for joy over the Hot Wheels cars we had brought for them.  The children kept hugging us and kissing us over and over.  One little girl named Vika came to me at least 6 or 7 times to hug me.  Each time she wanted me to bend down so she could kiss me.  The last time she insisted on kissing me right on the lips, which she did.  This same little girl is going to be adopted by an American family.  She was fortunate enough to go to the United States last summer to attend a summer camp with American kids.  A family that met her is in the process of adopting her.  She learned a little bit of English during her stay in the U.S., and while she was hugging me, I said, “So you’re going to America?”  She smiled a big smile and showed me a thumbs up sign.  She is a sweet girl.

Makayla standing by the cake we ordered from the bakery for the party. Believe it or not, that flimsy piece of cardboard below the cake is all that the bakery gave us to transport the cake in the car from the bakery to the orphanage.  


The children during the party.


I brought the tissue paper to make the flowers from home, and then I made them during our spare time in Birobidzhan. 


The children ate every last bite of their cake.


Some of the girls with their new Barbie dolls.


I also handed out gifts to the teachers and other orphanage employees who were at the party.  I asked Tamara to translate the notes I had written to the two teachers so that they would know what I had written.  Then Mama Leda asked the children to share compliments about us.  The children raised their hands and each one said something like, “They are very kind,” or “They are sweet like candy.”  Then Mama Leda brought out a card she had for us.  She had written a poem for us, and she recited the poem to us, and Tamara translated it at the same time.  It was so sweet that it made me cry.  The poem is of course written in Russian, but I am going to have Tamara translate it again so that I can write it down in English.

The teachers and orphanage employees.  Mama Leda is on the far left, and I am on the far right.


When it was almost time for us to go, we changed you back into your orphanage clothes for the last time.  Mama Leda and Mama Valentina came over to us.  They both started talking to me in Russian very fast at the same time.  Since I couldn’t understand either one of them, I kept looking at Tamara who was sort of flustered herself at trying to translate what both of them were saying to me.  The part that made it through the English translation was “Please write to us and send us pictures of Makayla,” and, “She will make lots of progress now that she will be with you.”  I’m sure that they said more than that though.  They were both very excited for us.  Tonight is your last night in the orphanage.  We will pick you up at 10:00 tomorrow morning.  Then you will be ours forever!


Peter was here for dinner tonight, and Tamara stayed, too.  We laughed a lot at dinner.  Every time someone told a joke, Tamara had to translate it, and then we all laughed a second time.  After dinner, Gaya and Peter set up the bed for you in our room.  Actually it is a crib that Gaya’s grandson used.  I hope you will fit in it alright.  We will find out tomorrow.  It will be another big day!


Saturday
15 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

We had Victor pick us up at 9:45 this morning so that we could be at the orphanage right at 10:00 to pick you up.  We took off your orphanage clothes and dressed you in your pretty blue dress, and I fixed your hair with the blue bow in it.  We took some pictures with the children who had excitedly watched while we got you ready.  I noticed that Mama Leda had put some of the paper flowers I made for the party into a silk tree that was in the dressing room.  The children started giving all of us good-bye hugs.  Little Nina hugged me for the longest time.  I started to cry because I have enjoyed these little children so much, and I know we will never see them again.  Just before we left, some of the boys ran up and kissed you on the cheek.  You ran down the stairs and out the door.  As we drove off, we all said “Paw-kaw” which means Bye-bye in Russian.

The children all gathered around as we got Makayla ready to leave the orphanage for the last time.


Saying good-bye to the children and the teachers.


We stopped at the post office to call home.  Ashley wanted to talk to you twice.  We headed back to Gaya’s apartment.  We played with your two Barbies for awhile, and then we had an English lesson.  You are getting better at understanding English every day.  The phrases you can understand are “Bath time,” “Time to brush your teeth,” “Time for bed,” “Time to eat,” “Playtime with Daddy,” “Storytime,” “Time for school,” “Put on your shoes,” “Go get in the car,” “Sit down,” “Stand up,” “Go,” “Stop,” “Hug Daddy,” “Hug Mommy,” and you have also learned a lot of other words such as food words and other household words.


For lunch we went to the hotel where we had planned to meet Sue and Jack Vogler.  They are the couple from Pennsylvania who are here in Birobidzhan to adopt a 10-year-old girl named Natasha.  They had Natasha with them.  She has red hair and freckles, and she was very quiet.  Across the room from us, they were setting tables for a wedding reception.  I took a picture of the table because it was the nicest table I have seen here in Russia.  It had a wedding cake, and lots and lots of different kinds of food.  We had a nice lunch with the Voglers, and then we took a picture with them before we said “good-bye.”

The table set for the wedding party at the hotel.  The guests arrived shortly after I took this picture.


With Jack and Sue Vogler at the restaurant.  They were in Russia to adopt 10-year-old Natasha.


Before leaving the restaurant, we sat down to plan the menu for the dinner tomorrow night.  That is when we are taking everyone who has helped us with the adoption out for dinner.  As we were putting our coats on, someone from the wedding party came over to us.  The wedding reception had started, and this man wanted us, as Americans, to congratulate the bride and the groom over the microphone.  Tamara was really excited about this, and she told us to say that we offer our congratulations to them, and then explain that this is our first time in Russia and that we have been married for 17 years, etc. etc.  The man asked us to take off our coats and come up to the dance floor.  Daddy made the congratulations speech and Tamara translated it so all the guests could understand it.  Then the bride and groom came up to us with glasses of wine.  We indicated that we don’t drink, and then the band started to play.  The same man motioned that he wanted us to dance.  We danced the first dance along with the bride and groom, but the cameraman was filming only us for the longest time.  We felt like some sort of celebrities at someone else’s wedding, and it was all just because we are Americans.  At the end of the dance, we congratulated the couple once again, and they gave us a gold and white wedding balloon.


We said good-bye and started to leave when the same man came running over to us again.  As he was speaking in Russian, Daddy said, “What?  Does he want me to sing now?”  Tamara laughed and she translated that line into Russian.  The man motioned that Daddy was welcome to sing with the band.  We said, “no,” and Tamara explained that the man just wanted to know how their English sounded in the song they played.  They had been playing the Beatles song, “Yesterday,” and I noticed that they were reading the words as they sang them.  Their English sounded just fine, and we told them, “Good job!”  I gave them the thumbs up sign.  We walked over to you.  You had been sitting with one of the hotel employees because we couldn’t convince you to come on to the dance floor with us.  The lady had given you three pieces of fruit (a banana, an apple, and a tangerine).  You ate the banana while we were dancing, and then you stuck the apple in one of your coat pockets and the tangerine in the other as we headed out the door.  We were all laughing about how we had participated in a Russian wedding.  It was a lot of fun!


We headed back to Gaya’s apartment, and we put you in the crib for your nap.  Daddy and I were lying on the bed, and you kept peeking at us and smiling that adorable smile of yours.  You finally went to sleep.  You always look so cute when you’re asleep.  After your nap, you played some more and we had a great English lesson.  Gaya made all of us dinner, and then she got out some of her grandson’s movies.  We let you watch American Tail III.  You could hear the English in the background, and then a man translated the voices into Russian.  The same man translated all the voices, and towards the end of the movie, we could tell he was getting tired, because he was speaking in monotone, but you enjoyed the movie.  Tomorrow we plan to buy some more movies in Russian so that you will have something to watch when we first go home to America.  Tamara thinks that most of the movies will just be in Russian (no English in the background).  You stayed up late on your first night with us.  We put you in the crib at about 10:00 p.m., but when we started getting ready for bed, you got really excited.  I think this is because you are not used to having a Mom and a Dad sleeping right next to you, and it probably seemed like a slumber party.  Who wants to sleep at a slumber party?  I sat by you for awhile because I wanted to rub your little back and tell you how much we love you.  Finally you started to settle down and you went to sleep.

Makayla sleeping in the crib.


It wasn’t quite long enough for a five-year-old.


Sunday
16 April 2000

Dear Makayla,

When I woke up this morning, I looked in the crib, and you were all curled up at one end, and the covers were down at the other end.  I covered you up and stared at you for a few minutes.  You started waking up about 30 minutes later, but you wanted to lie in the crib for awhile.  I will be glad when we get to Moscow so you won’t have to sleep in a crib anymore.  We are leaving Birobidzhan in three more days.  I gave you a bath this morning, and you got just as excited about the hairdryer as you did the first time.  They must not have dried your hair with a hairdryer in the orphanage.  We got you dressed, and then Gaya called us for breakfast.  The three of us sat down at the table.  This was the first time we had breakfast together.  We had oatmeal and biscuits with jam.  You loved all of this, especially the jam.  We finished getting ready, and you watched The Lion King in Russian.  This movie had the same English in the background as the movie you watched last night.  That must be confusing to listen to.


Tamara arrived at 10:30 and we went to the flea market to look for some Russian videos.  We bought 6 or 7 of them and two audio cassette tapes with Russian children’s songs that are familiar to you.  These video tapes are better than the ones Gaya has.  They are only in Russian, and there are different voices for all the characters.  You have really enjoyed watching them.  After the flea market, we made some stops at different places in Birobidzhan to take pictures.  We first went to the large sign at the entrance to Birobidzhan that says “Birobidzhan” in both Russian and Yiddish.  Then we went to the river.  Victor, our driver, pretended to throw you in, and you laughed at this.  We next made a stop near the statue of Lenin.  This is a huge statue in the center of Birobidzhan.  Tamara told us that everyone knows now that Lenin was not a good man, but they haven’t taken down the statue yet.

In front of the Birobidzhan sign.


My husband and Makayla with our interpreter, Tamara, at the river.


With our driver, Victor.


Next we came back to Gaya’s apartment.  At 1:00, another interpreter named Ludmillla, and the lady she is translating for, came over to Gaya’s for lunch.  Ludmilla wanted to give us a letter and some pictures to take to Sybil in the United States.  The lady she is translating for is from Berkeley, California.  She just got to Birobidzhan on Friday, and she is here to adopt a one year old little girl.  This lady’s name is Cindy, and I could tell that she is very intelligent.  I asked her what line of work she is in, and she said she is an attorney.  Her practice is in Family Law.  Anyway, we had a really nice lunch.


After lunch, we gave Tamara and Gaya the gifts we brought for them.  We gave each of them some very nice handtowels, some pretty soap, and a $100 bill.  Tamara translated the notes I wrote to them.  They were both very excited and came over and hugged us.  Gaya gave us a gift also.  It is a small picture to hang on a wall.  It was very nice of her.  After you woke up from your nap, we played some more, and you watched Winnie the Pooh which is one of the movies we bought at the flea market this morning.  I gave you a tiny gumball machine with little pieces of gum in it.  They were so small that you took all of them out of the machine one by one until you had a big wad of gum in your mouth.  You showed me the empty gumball machine.  I think you wanted more gum, but I don’t have any more.


We had dinner at the hotel tonight.  We invited all the people who have helped us while we are here in Birobidzhan.  There were eleven of us in all (Victor, Tamara, Tamara’s husband, Gaya, Peter, Olga, Marsha, Tatyana, and the three of us).  When Tamara came to pick us up, I told her that I wanted to curl your hair with the curling iron, but I wanted her to be there so she could explain it to you.  You did not want your hair curled, but I wanted to do it once while we have an interpreter with us so that when we get back home, you will understand what I am doing.  You looked so cute with your hair curled.  We got you dressed in the pretty blue dress again, and everyone else was dressed up, too.  Victor even had a suit on.  At the hotel, we had the private room again.  The table looked very nice.  I think everybody enjoyed the dinner.

At the restaurant on the night we took everyone out to dinner.


Victor, our driver, at the restaurant.


Tamara (our main interpreter) and her husband at the restaurant.


After we got home and it was time for bed, we put on your pajamas and put you in the crib.  The crib is right next to the closet where we keep all of our toothpaste, makeup, medicine, etc.  You were very curious about all of these things.  You first pulled out the lotion and you stuck your feet out through the crib rails.  You wanted me to rub your feet like I did the other day.  I rubbed them for a few minutes, and then you wanted to look in the closet again.  One by one, you took out each item, and I explained what it was for.  When you pulled out the eye drops or my contacts, I pointed to my eyes, and said, “eyes.”  When you pulled out the hair spray, I showed you how I spray it on my hair.  When you pulled out the first aid kit, I took out a bandaid and put it on my finger.  When you pulled out medicine, I looked up the word for medicine in my Russian dictionary, and when you tried to open it, I used a word I heard you use, “Foo.”  When I asked Marsha what that meant, she said it is a slang word for “I don’t like it!”  I think it translates into English as “YUCK!”  Anyway, you were a very curious girl, but you finally got tired and went to bed.


To go to Part 4, click here:

To Russia For Love, Part 4

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Hi! I'm Laura. I enjoy sharing simple and delicious recipes that I serve my family and friends. To learn more about me, click here.

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