February 17th - Day 7: Dave meets with success on the internet

Having had the expectation of not being able to see Emil this morning, we were pleasantly surprised when Masha called to say that his fever was gone and that we could visit for a short time.  It was wonderful just to have the opportunity to see him feeling better!  Instead of whimpering, he was cheerful and happy to see us!  In fact, when Emil first entered the room, Dave went over to him and Emil reached right out to him!  Wow!  Later on, he did the same thing with me!  We can't even begin to describe what that felt like.  That non-verbal "pick me up and hold me; I want to be near you" kind of communication just made our day!  We feel like we're really building that bridge of trust and at some level, he's starting to realize that we're always going to be here for him!

We also had an opportunity to ask some questions of the Baby House director.  We found out that the baby house was built in 1975 as a "kindergarten" (I'm guessing she means day care or nursery) for the railway workers.  It became a baby house on September 10, 1997.  She said that the building had not changed much over the years except that World Partners Adoption replaced (or fixed) the roof.  She was adamant about us letting WPA know how thankful she is for that.  I asked the director what she hopes for, for the children.  She said that she wished that mothers would raise their children instead of bringing them to the orphanage, and for the children who have no mother, that they may all find loving families.  She said that there are many children who are adopted locally.  We asked if there were any other photos of Emil, perhaps when he was younger, and she said that there were not.  We also wondered if we would get to keep his original records or a copy of them and she said that we would be given a card with his vital medical information on it when we get back to Almaty.  His original records will stay at the orphanage.

In between visits today, we all (Sanders and Andrews) went to the Big Market.  It has a grocery store downstairs (Masha suggested getting our meat here) and two floors of many little shops above.  We were on the lookout for snowsuits for Emil and Alexander Artur (the Andrews' baby) so that we're prepared when it's time to bring them home from the baby houses.  We saw a few and then decided we best measure them first to make sure they will fit.  (Apparently there is no return policy here.)  We did get the boys each a couple of pairs of tights, though.  All babies here wear tights under their clothes, even the boys, to keep them warm.  Robin and Dave shopped for a hat (didn't get one, though) and I got Sierra some Barbie pony tail holders so I can braid her hair.  We also got some ground meat at the grocery store as well as a couple of steaks.  They had a much better supply of fresh fruits and some vegetables so we bought some bananas, grapes, pears, apples, potatoes, great looking tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Our visit with Emil this afternoon was also short and the poor little guy seemed a little off again.  We asked Masha if she could find out what his schedule is.  We're suspicious that our visits (particularly the afternoon one) might be right before his nap and maybe that's contributing to his being uncomfortable.

After the afternoon visit, we dropped Dave off at the Chagala hotel, determined to successfully download these journal entries onto the website.  On our way there, Igor showed us where some school kids were practicing hockey.  It was a massive rink (almost like a flooded parking lot the size of a football field) behind a large Russian Orthodox Church.  The far wall had something in Russian written on it and the Olympic symbol (the five rings).  It was quite a sight to see.  Robin, Sierra, and I headed out to a different bookstore recommended by Igor which is closer to the apartment and apparently bigger.  I was able to find a book on Kazakh traditions and customs in English, a map of Uralsk, a map of Kazakhstan, a children's Kazakh alphabet chart, a children's book of words in Kazakh, Russian, and English, and some plasticine (like clay) for us to play with.  All along the street, there are tons of little shops that have a little bit of everything.  We went in one less than a block from our apartment to buy some things we forgot to get this morning ... some butter, bacon, eggs, (staples for Robin's awesome breakfasts), and ice cream sticks.  The shop also sells airline tickets, flowers, cell phones, newspapers and magazines, and jewelry.  (Even Doris's didn't sell airline tickets!)  Dave caught up with us, elated from his success in downloading our entries on this website!!!  Because the computer he used will only read an older version of Front Page, there are still some glitches to work out but we're hopeful that we'll be able to iron out the remaining kinks over the weekend! 

When we got back to the apartment, we ran into the Andrews on their way to use the internet link at the Chagala and decided to join them over there for dinner.  They have a menu in English and some very good pizzas.  Robin had a burger ... the menu said beef, but he's not convinced it wasn't horsemeat.  He said it tasted fine, just a little weird.  The hotel also has CNN so we got to hear President Bush speak.  (I can't say I've missed hearing him.)  It was a nice evening ... we were all tired and it was good to get out and do something different.  It's funny ... I had heard that the Chagala was such a nice hotel and yet, from the outside, it looks like one of those trailers that schools under construction use for classrooms, attached to a big pole barn.  Once you get inside, though, it is quite nice. 

        Finding fast internet service at the Chagala Hotel                                                    Ahhhh... interesting "beef" 


                    First time seeing Emil with a pacifier                                                            Funny guy


            Sierra's been such a joy- just going with the flow                                    In search of some snow to play in



                    Pick up hockey behind the Church                                        Beautiful Russian Orthodox Church


        Little store next to our apartment