The feel of ice under my feet.
The smell of overcooked cabbage.
The scratch of that pink V-neck sweater against my neck.
The weight of my snow boots on my feet and the knee pain that followed.
The weightlessness of a dirty faced little girl who cried into my shoulder, confused by the new people who smiled too much, talked too loud, smelled too sweet, and clung too tightly.
The rattled breath of an even littler girl who sat in eerie silence with vacant expressions until her physical discomfort became such that she cried a weak cry that reminded me of a kitten.
Then a subtle shift over the next few days as they got used to seeing our faces, and we got used to seeing theirs. By week's end, we had smiles, hand clapping games, familiar toys that we shared, and on Sunday morning before we left for the airport, we not only had been captivated by their smiles, but we had apparently won their approval as well as Olga curled up on Joe's lap and fell asleep against his barrel chest.
Every time the weather has changed this fall into frosty temperatures I have walked outside, closed my eyes, and imagined the playground equipment that looks like something out of a Grimm brothers fairy tale. I imagine walking out of the airport into that first arctic blast of air.
I remember standing on the canal bridge looking across at the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood and taking in the sad beauty of a church turned museum, ornate and useless, like so many pharisees in Jesus' day, white washed tombs.
As we stood there, marveling at the intricate patterns of thumbnail sized tiles, I was very aware of parallel nature of our journey. Like the name of this blog, our journey to this place at this time for these girls was one of several very tiny footsteps. The Lamp of God's Word gave us only enough light for each paver in the road. Not because God is slow in keeping His promises, or because He is cruel, as though He were a fickle lover leading us along without commitment.
Rather, He knew us so well....knew ME so well....that He knew we'd never believe or buy into the end picture if He told us everything at the beginning. But the obstacles He moved out of the way, one step at a time, revealed His great plan and a grand adventure.
So here we sit, one year removed from that first frightful meeting. How they've changed. How they've become just like us. Clingy. Sweet. Smiley. Loud. Until they fall asleep curled up in our arms.