Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Other Valla

What should I tell you about yesterday, our first day of the whirlwind post-court decree paper chase?

I could tell you about the car that Luda hired to get us to Aaron’s birthplace. She couldn’t get Slava, our usual driver, so we hired a local man from our little village. We spent several alarming hours bumping along in a tinpot rattle trap Russian jeep that was just barely up for the journey. Our driver almost killed a man, then almost killed us, and both incidents were within a hundred yards of one another. This also happened TWICE:



I could tell you about the seatbelts. A fairly new law requires front seat passengers to wear seatbelts. The tinpot crap can had belts, but no CLASPS for the belts. Oh, but where’s the problem? Just hurriedly sling the seatbelt over your shoulder and PRETEND they are hooked in order to fool passing policemen.



I could tell you about the room the locals in Aaron’s birthplace provided so that Luda could do her paperwork: it was the wedding chapel in which the justice of the peace officiates at weddings. This is it:





We renewed our vows.




I could tell you the rules that apply when you’re trying to break the national record for completing paperwork in three widely separated towns in one day: Don’t ask what you’re doing now. Don’t ask what comes next. If you should come in contact with any local official, say nothing-- you might make him suspicious, which could take up precious time. Don’t drink any liquids-- there’s no time to indulge your bodily functions. Carry food with you, because you’re not stopping. Don’t walk, trot. Sign where you are told to sign, pay whatever and whenever you are told to pay. Keep your eyes on the ground and your mouth shut.

I could tell you about our 2nd driver, the one we hired after we sent the first one packing (we did rather want to both complete and survive the trip). This new driver was a fast professional with a modern car, but we thought we were in deep trouble when he was stopped for speeding. For some reason he didn’t appear nervous. When the officer came to the window, our driver pulled out his ID, and suddenly the pair were the best of friends. It turned out that our driver was a retired police officer. We told him (through Luda) that the police protect each other in America as well. He responded (through Luda) that “this little corruption is everywhere.” He proved that when he pulled the same stunt again a little farther down the road.

I could tell you about returning to civilization, to towns in which one may actually choose from more than one restaurant, more than one type of food. Towns that actually have hotel beds with private bathrooms and HOT SHOWERS AND BATHS! Towns that have McDonald’s restaurants and Baskin Robbins ice cream shops.



But what I really want to tell you about is one of the sweetest moments of our trip. Today we got to visit the baby house where Aaron lived for his first five years, and there we met the Other Valla.



This Valla is a dear, precious old lady who took special care of Aaron from birth. She held him, rocked him, washed him, prayed with him and loved him from his infancy. When Aaron was christened, she became his godmother. When he was baptized, she was the one who held him in her arms. There simply are no words to express how I felt when I saw in her eyes how much she cherished our precious son.

She cried when we walked in the room. She clapped her hands together, covered her face with a handkerchief and cried. When we found out who she was, we cried too. I was so overcome with emotion that I almost collapsed into a mound of jello on the floor. I was so blessed to have a chance to meet the Other Valla.

It was a beautiful meeting. The director welcomed us with open arms and let us take pictures freely. She told us that she had followed our journey and that everyone there rejoiced when they read that the judge ruled in our favor (We’re not quite sure how she knew all of that!). We toured the place and asked plenty of questions. We saw the bright and colorful rooms that were his home for five years. We saw Aaron’s playground, his toys, and his crib. We saw the rugs that we knew from his pictures. We met some of the other loving caretakers and saw some of the children who shared his life there. There was so much to learn there that we hardly had time to take it all in.

When our time there was over, it began to sink in just how much Aaron lost when he was transferred: He lost his godmother. He lost his friends and playmates. He lost the only family he’d ever known. He lost everything. Even though he spent his first five years in an orphanage, it was a safe and loving orphanage. His caretakers truly and deeply loved their bossy, particular little Vanya. When he arrived at the internat where he lives now, he must have felt like he was being punished for some terrible crime. I cannot imagine what went through his mind when his godmother dressed him for the last time. I can’t imagine his grief, or hers, as she placed him in the car, promising him as she did that he WOULD find a family. She had prayed too hard to believe that her prayers would not be heard. I can’t imagine Aaron’s shock when the car pulled into the internat grounds. The contrast is so striking that it takes your breath away. Through the eyes of a five year old boy, it must have been beyond comprehension. I can’t imagine how he felt when he spent his first nights in a place as scary and overwhelming as that internat, with its frightening noises and smells. I can’t imagine the feelings of numbness and betrayal that must have swept over him when, day after day, the whispered promises of his godmother failed to come true. I can hardly believe that after a year in a place like that, he still has the capacity to laugh. I just cannot believe that he has survived. It can only be by God’s grace and the prayers that began when he was just a broken little baby, abandoned by his parents, but not by His God.

We are still trying to process what we saw at the baby house. I’m crying even as I write. I am utterly blown away by God’s tender mercies, lavished freely on our precious son. I am still reeling from the testimony of his first caretakers and their fervent desire for him to have a Mama and Papa of his own. I am completely humbled by the simple faith of the precious Other Valla, who steadfastly believed against all evidence to the contrary that Aaron would find a family. Our time with her was too short. We were only there for about 30 minutes, but they were the most precious 30 minutes of our trip. I will carry the words spoken, the hugs shared, the tears shed and the great faith and love exhibited in my heart for the rest of my life.

Today made all the agony of the last few months melt away. What a precious gift we received when God laid Aaron on our hearts in January. I am on my knees in grateful thanksgiving that we chose to jump. If we had missed the joy of meeting the Other Valla, missed seeing the faith in her eyes and listening to her humble voice, it would have been a great loss indeed.




27 comments:

  1. What a beautiful testimony to God's faithfulness. I'm in tears here and so thankful to read all you have written today.

    Hugs to you!
    Leslie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have prayed for Aaron since before you committed to him. I am weeping tears of joy for you all. The story of his godmother and the other caretakers was so moving.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have prayed for Aaron since before you committed to him. I am weeping tears of joy for you all. Thank you for the story of his godmother and the other caretakers. Very moving. All the praise goes to God!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're right- I did need my tissues! Thanks for sharing this beautiful story! Seeing how God's hand was guiding and protecting Aaron from his first days is precious! We are so happy that you were able to experience that missing piece. I'm praying daily for your paperwork to be completed, and for you to be able to bring Aaron HOME at last!

    Funny side note- the Russian jeep you had in the picture was just like my first car- a Lada Niva. They aren't allowed in the US, but I had one in Canada. LOVED that thing! It was basic, and no frills, but it could get through deep snow like nothing else. My dad felt like I was safer in it, I guess, since I drove 10 hours back from college on breaks through Saskatchewan winters. No radio, limited heat, couldn't top 90 km/hr. But it was great! =)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would almost suggest that the Other Valla's name could be substituted with Mother Valla, in honor of the first five years she loved on your sweet boy. It would be so heart-warming if perhaps Aaron were able to reunite with her at some point in his life. Hopefully he would still remember her. I admire your writing, your insights, and your heart as you go through this amazing journey! Congratulations, again, to your family and for your THREE sons!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an amazing experience you had today. I am in tears after reading it. God is so good!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh Julia...I'm so thankful that you shared this story. It was a gift for me to read it this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm sobbing...I'm touched and hurt. I'm hurt by what went through his mind and the many others that went before him, but I am moved by God's mercy.

    I am so glad Aaron has his family...if only the others....

    ReplyDelete
  9. Only God... Sometimes God brings us to tears to wash away the hurt. Thank you both for taking us on this journey with you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This has touched my heart. God is good and loves and watches over all his children. Welcome to your family Aaron.

    ReplyDelete
  11. WOW! Thank you so much for sharing! I too am crying as I read. I'm so thankful you had the opportunity to meet her and be a testimony of answered prayer to HER! God is SO faithful!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm amazed daily at what God can do. Your journey has mad me angry for you, sad with you, at times hopeless for you... today I'm in awe. The feelings are hard to put into words. I'm so happy for you, and so so so thankful that God allowed you to have today's opportunities and that today is the last day you will be there. I'm so excited for Aaron and all of you as you FINALLY embark on the NEW life that God has been planning for you as a family. Lots of HUGS (and tears) for you all today!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. how beautiful. and how beautiful that he was loved so by this sweet woman.

    makes me so sad for Brady. I wonder what he thought when he was brought there....away from everything he has ever known too. It just breaks my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What beautiful eyes Valla has...her sweetness of spirit shines clearly in them.

    And what a blessing to meet this wonderful lady who loves your son so dearly: a blessing for you, and a blessing for Valla.

    Like you, I grieve and pray for the little ones (and middle sized ones, and big ones) left to languish in the institutions. Spreading the word is crucial to helping them, and I thank you for your eloquent witness.

    Blessings,
    Susan B. in Ky
    Cousin to Two from Ukraine

    ReplyDelete
  15. You've got me crying again. What an experience. I'm so glad you got to go there!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a blessing that Aaron has such a beautiful godmother! That he was loved, cared for and prayed over. Tears of happiness in our house this morning for all of you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can hardly see for the tears. What a beautiful story.
    Joy,RR

    ReplyDelete
  18. Awesome testimony of God's merciful grace on His children.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, what a tear-jerking post! What a wonderful thing that you guys were able to visit his Baby House. Can't wait to see the "Gotcha Day" post!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! how God is knitting together all the pieces for you!
    Its a beautiful picture and you guys are being lifted before the Lord by us all! We will continue to pray...thank you for sharing..I am so touched and blessed by the news!! Praying for all your boys too!
    Love,
    Melody

    ReplyDelete
  21. How Blessed Aaron has been in his life! And how Blessed you must feel! What a beautiful day.

    ReplyDelete
  22. WOW....what an amazing post! Your words allow me to invision all that you encounter and pull me in. I am sitting here, crying along with you. I am so glad you got to meet Valla, I am so grateful that her prayers and the prayers of others were answered when you took that leap of faith in January. He may have faced an ugly reality when he was transferred, but he is about to experience the most joyful reality ever when he leaves and comes home with his mama and papa. That day is coming so soon, and I have my box of tissues ready for it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Was Aaron with you on this trip? You must keep in touch with mother Valla- her picture says so much.

    ReplyDelete
  24. your words are amazing - I'm reminded of the people in Mary's baby house who would stop in the hall and declare (in Russian we could understand just enough of) "Darina!!! What is this? You have a Mama and Papa? Oh, Darina, wonderful wonderful!!!" And they would HUG her and just CRY and SMILE at us... ah, thank you for sharing these details. THANK YOU. Praising with you and sitting in amazement at little Aaron's prayer filled life!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I was aching just reading how your sweet little boy must have felt. i have tears ..just thinking about it. HOW DOES A CHILD deal with the reality? it is so wrong. thrilled you met his god mother..what a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Valla is the best that any godmother could be!! May the Lord so deeply encourage her as she continues to pray for other little ones that he hears all and is at work... Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!! Bless this dear woman of faith!!
    Sharon RG

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dear Julia-
    I'm catching up on your journey now, and I am amazed once again at God's goodness in allowing you that tender time to meet the precious Other Valla. What a wonderful, wonderful memory to give to your son. And congratulations from the bottom of my heart. What a gift he is.
    Love,
    Casey Houseworth from ACTS co-op

    ReplyDelete

Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!

THE BIGGEST HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM OF THE YEAR!

Save up to 95% on Homeschool Curriculum at the 2018 Build Your Bundle Sale