October 17, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride....

You know...I have done some really ridiculous things in my life and I'm sure the same goes for my husband and my mom.  But, our decision to drive from Zhytomyr to Dnepropetrovsk on Friday night takes the icing on the cake!

We met a taxi cab driver, Vitaly, during the beginning of our adoption journey.  He drove a white VW car/van/SUV thingy and we noticed he had a German flag hanging in the window.  Since we had just come from Germany, we thought it would be cool to strike up a conversation with this guy.  He didn't speak much English but he LOVED to talk.  He would just continue to talk as much as possible, even though we didn't have a clue as to what he was saying.  I could understand some words and piece it together, but for the most part - he just loved to hear himself talk.  He did tell us that his family was from Germany and how he wanted to either live there or America.  He asked if we would take him.  A few days later, he came to pick us up and his girlfriend, Leana, was with him.  She speaks perfect English and was such a big help in translating for us.  I asked her about his family in Germany and she rolled her eyes and said, "His family is Ukrainian and live in Ukraine, his ancient ancestors are from Germany - HE IS NOT FROM THERE!"  It was funny because clearly she had had this conversation once or twice before with other people.  Anyway, we grew to really like Vitaly and we would call Leana to have her call Vitaly to pick us up and take us places.  They were such a great help! 

Well, after court, we were trying to decide when to go to Dnepropetrovsk.  One guy offered to take us but was going to charge us an unbelievable amount of money.  We thought about the train but there was no way to find out about train tickets without traveling to Kiev first and we didn't want to take that chance.  So, we called our buddy, Vitaly.  He offered to take us for less than what we could take a train.  We took him up on it and loaded the car at 6:10 PM. He told us it would only take us about 6 hours.  When we got in the car - the first thing we noticed - there were no seatbelts.  I am sure its okay, we were most likely going to be traveling on an interstate type highway and I would hold my baby as tight as possible.  We headed out on the highway to Kiev and once we got there, he kept stopping and asking for directions.  We began to get a little worried that he didn't know exactly where to go from there.  We contemplated catching the train from Kiev and letting Vitaly go on his way back to Zhytomyr.  But, we kept on going, stopping every hour to ask for directions or to read the map.  We were trucking along and the interstate then turned into two lanes and stayed that way the rest of the trip. These weren't normal two lane roads - they reminded me much of Mexico or Belize roads.  Lots of pot holes! 

Now, Vitaly told us that he had been a tank driver in the Army.  We were impressed but I think he wanted to show us those tank driving skills on our road trip.  It was a mixture of NASCAR, Bumper Cars at the Fair, Frogger from Atari, and tank driving all wrapped up into one.  Madeline would occassionally say "I riding a horse!"  We passed people on the road and I'm sure we were going close to 90 miles an hour.  We were dodging cars like bullets.  It was like we were part of a high speed chase!  I was scared to look.  I could read the serial numbers on the license plates of cars and 18-wheelers!  As we got closer to Cherkassy, we noticed the sign to Dnepropetrovsk and we were FAR, FAR AWAY!  What to do now?  We were literally in the middle of nowhere and there was no sense in turning back.  We asked Vitaly over and over (about every 30 minutes) if he was "oostala?"  (which is tired).  He assured us he was not though none of us (except the girls) were about to fall asleep in fear that Vitaly might follow suit.  So, here we are, bouncing along the incredibly difficult roads in NOWHERE UKRAINE!  Vitaly LOVES techno music and so we were subjected to a night full of it.  He continued to talk to Craig (who was riding shotgun) and he would laugh out loud knowing that Craig had no idea what he was saying.  He said "Vitaly skazhi blah, blah, blah and Craig skazhi 'ne penemayo' - ha, ha, ha!"  And, then he would laugh (translated "Vitaly says blah, blah, blah and Craig says I don't understand you."  It was hilarious!  So, our 6 hour ride turned into 9 hours!!!!  We were so extremely tired.  Vitaly was supposed to be back in Zhytomyr by noon and it was 3:30 AM!  We made him come upstairs and sleep on a mattress on the floor.  There was no way we were going to let him drive back to Zhytomyr with no sleep.  He slept for 4 hours and made it back safely (late, but safe).  We called Leana throughout the day apologizing that we had kept him in Dnepro to sleep. 

The ride was one of a lifetime - much like adoption!  It was such a reminder that God is in control.  There we were - no seatbelts, no directions, a language barrier, not knowing where we were going, and extremely exhausted - and God's mercy poured down on us and got us safely to our destination!  Adoption is not for the faint-hearted.  It should have a disclaimer, much like the rollercoasters and thrill rides at the amusement parks.  But, trust God and He will carry you every step of the way!  He doesn't called the equipped - He equips the called.

We have made a friend in Vitaly and Leana - we hope that our lives are a reflection to them of who Christ is through us!  We hope and pray that God would pour His mercies on them as well. 

No more Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for us - we are taking the Express Train back to Kiev on Saturday!  However, we are hoping and praying that Vitaly will be so gracious to pick us up and take us to Zhytomyr. 


Vitaly and his car

Our new friend!
Blessings,
The Hills 
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