2 January 2015
One of my New Years resolutions is to start blogging again. I have been using Facebook primarily as a way of communicating my journey for several reasons. To me it seems easy – being non-techie that is important. I also don’t feel the pressure to be a literary genius. Since I am not a great writer I get a little self-conscious but have enjoyed journaling as an outlet as well as a way of chronicling the journey. Facebook isn’t known for being of high literary standards so I didn’t worry as much about my lack of skills. With life being as busy as it is to send off writings to get edited before posting can seem overwhelming to me. Thank you Pam, Chip, Beth, Lois and Edith for your willingness to – I will at times still ask for edits for important post. I do realize my run on sentences, poor punctuations and (even with spell check) spelling mistakes can be distracting for some. I humbly ask your forgiveness. I still hope in the mist of those flaws you will be encouraged and get a glimpse of grace in action in and through this journey. It is a surprise that I, a poor student all those years ago in grade school who shied away from any writing, now finds the journaling process therapeutic for me. I have missed blogging, so as I reflect back on 2014 I figured it was a good first post for the year.
I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself halfway around the world being part of what is happening with an ever-expanding community of friends. Since I first went to Kazakhstan in 2000 the whole journey has refined me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Learning to love wholly and selflessly has brought me to my knees as well as a keener awareness of my self-centeredness and flaws. I’m humbled, utterly amazed and thankful that this is my life.
Here are some of the highlights but really just a glimpse of a year bursting with joys, tears, laughter, love, second (and third) chances, new life, uncomfortable situations, lots of traveling, new friends, surgeries, doctor visits, border crossings, more laughter, more challenges, uncertainties, beauty, pain, suffering, restoration, and more love.
Life was full starting in January with the addition of Jenya and Nikita then Vera, Nikita’s mom in Feb.
Feb/March I found myself in Virginia for the birth of my daughter – Sarah’s first son – Gabriel.
After knocking on many doors during that same time, a door finally opened and I received word that HCA Chippenham Hospital, the surgeons and medical supply company would provide surgery for Saule and Natasha pro bono. I called back to Kazakhstan to wake Beth up in the middle of the night so I could tell her before posting to Facebook. What an amazing generous gift.
Lots of visitors came to visit us – from America, Russia, Germany, and Netherlands to name a few.
In June we received the official letter from the hospital.
We also moved to our new house after we – mostly Beth – looked at over 50 houses before we found one that would work for us.
June 15, just 5 days after moving Vera gave birth to sweet Jasmine.
Applications were made in June for visas to the US for Muhan (foster father), Saule (then age 9.5 years) Natasha (age 28 years) and her son Maxim (age 6 years). Visas were received and airline tickets purchased me and the group to fly to Virginia on July 12.
On July 29th, Saule had her surgeries – all 3 in the same day – her eye to allow it to close, her cleft lip and amputating her club foot in order to fit her with a prosthetic to give her full mobility and relieve the pain the shorter leg was causing the rest of her body.
July flew by way to fast and I left August 7 to fly back to KZ along with Jennifer and Bethany who meet with 12 families with disabled children and kids who come to our home. Their professional advice was invaluable as were the videos and OT/PT plans for the families and our gang.
We were sad to see Jen and Bethany leave but life kept us busy. In September, Nikita started school for the first time in Taraz and Maxim started school in New Kent, Virginia. We bought school uniforms and supplies for the children that come to visit.
Every journey begins with a first step! For Saule’s 10th Birthday she got her new prosthetic Sept 12 (her Birthday is the 13th).
Before I knew it – it was time to fly back to Virginia to check on the gang there. Oct 1st, I arrived in Virginia and on Oct 28th Natasha had the first of two surgeries to repair her severe scoliosis. I’m thankful Saule’s was first and thankful that I really had no idea what either of us were in for. It was a most difficult time for Natasha and me yet brought us even closer together. I also was humbled and amazed once again by the generosity of so many people. The doctors and nurses at HCH Chippenham during Saule’s surgery had shown themselves to be truly first rate, caring and compassionate that I had no idea I would find out during Natasha’s surgery that they were even more caring and compassionate. Natasha was in the hospital over 50 days. It was an experience several of us will not forget. I could not have done all that needed to be done without some amazing God-given women around me. There are so many who came together to make the surgeries and the time in Virginia possible that I couldn’t begin to list everyone. From host homes, to donations from all over the country, it will always be one of the most amazing things I have ever been part of. So many selfless, gracious acts of kindness and generosity I haven’t words for.
WTVR 6 in Richmond did a small piece on Saule. http://wtvr.com/2014/11/20/hero-vicki-charbonneau/
While in Virginia I didn’t have much time to see many friends and family with so much time spent in the hospital but I did sneak a couple visits in with Marc and Sarah and grandchildren. Thanksgiving with a special time with family from both sides of the world.
December 1st Muhan, Saule and I flew back to Kazakhstan. It was an emotional time leaving Natasha still in the hospital but knowing God had brought an amazing team of folks together to love and care for Natasha and Maxim. Back in Taraz Beth had been holding the fort down and welcoming Kara, an intern from Canada.
Christmas came with all the joy it holds and because of the generosity of many and Two Hearts for Hope we had a delicious Christmas dinner and were able to give gifts of towels and other items to our extended family here.
There are stories behind each picture. This is just a peek of all that happened this past year, so many miracles. Back in January 2014 most of what happened this past year wasn’t on the schedule Beth and I thought about. There was no plan to move, no plan to fly 5 of us to the US, no plan for host families, hospital stays, professional therapists visiting, and so many other things that happened. There was a plan to learn to love whole-heartily those who come to our home. There was a desire to engage with one another in ways that enrich each of our lives as we are all empowered to be who we were uniquely created to be. We may not have done these things perfectly but we did keep that a priority.
I have many hopes and dreams and Beth and I have a tentative schedule of what we think at this point may happen – God willing. We’ll have to wait till next January to see how things actually come about. My first New Year resolution is to seek to have a compassionate heart, filled with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. To bear with one another – forgiving as I remember all I have been forgiven for. To love as God has loved me with a heart full of thanksgiving.
Happy New Year friends and family.