This Blog is meant to journal the combined experiences of the persons involved in the Sasha Project. Its objective is to strengthen the ties between families, students (several of us teach), friends, and the growing number of persons who want to be part of the JOY which this Sasha Journey is spreading.

In 2004, I (Tina) traveled to Russia to assist with the adoption of my two nephews. Alexander (Sasha) was our interpreter, driver, and so much more. I have kept in touch with him and it has been my dream to let him experience first-hand the typical U.S. life (versus merely his impressions from American TV, movies and music). My initially modest idea blossomed to include eleven other adoptive families who also want to host Sasha and thank him for helping to make their dreams come true.

It will be fun as well as educational for all of us to share Sasha's observations and impressions of his daily travels as this Journey unfolds. There is an intricately choreographed daily itinerary which will take us to visit the Space Shuttle, Golden Gate bridge, Route 66, a Home Depot and other American icons through Sasha's eyes. The flight to L.A. is scheduled to leave Moscow on Saturday, June 15th to begin his six week visit.
It seems incredible, but the interviewing U.S. Immigrations officer denied Sasha a Tourist visa. He did not see the value in Sasha's trip or understand the desire for the adopting families and children to reunite with Sasha. The officer decided that Sasha was too poor to be allowed even a brief visit to the U.S.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Notebook #2 in Hand

Notebook #2 arrived today - one day EARLIER than promised. Thank You Federal Express.  At noon last Thursday, the book was in my hands; at noon this Thursday, Sasha had it in his hands.  And it even went through Russian Customs in that time.  Yippee!

One week from today is Sasha’s Interview at the Moscow Embassy.

I was surprised to discover that the US Moscow Embassy has a Facebook page!
So, of course, I posted something on it.  There has been one response to it, but it is written in Russian, so I have no idea what it says.

Sasha is tending to Sereja (his son), the garden, and his students.
“I was out for a while together with Sereja. He collected his school books so tomorrow we will bring those books back to the school library. He is waiting for me to go to the garden now, prompting: “Dad, let's go! The weather is fine, shall us water the garden!"
“Today looks I shall be busy with lessons almost all the day, if nothing extraordinary takes place.”

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Notebook #1 Arrived

The first email I read this morning was only one sentence in length plus a picture worth a thousand words

“Dear Tina, here I am with the play book at last. ;-)”

In a second email Sasha wrote:

“Have just caught myself on the thought that I am having fun with all this, though sometimes it looks a bit frustrating, but sure Spirits help us.”

Yesterday a US International Postal service rep contacted me in response to the inquiry I had previously made.  She shared what we already knew - the Moscow Postal Sorting Station had experienced a fire recently and thus did not move any mail for a week.  Lanie said she would place a urgent request for a tracking investigation on our package.  She said sometimes a little prompting helps push things through.  I should call back in 4-5 days to find the results of the investigation.  I replied, “Forget the investigation, just have them deliver the package!”  Today it was delivered!  Yipee!

I was slightly disheartened that I spent so much time and money Thursday to get a second Playbook shipped.  My dear husband lovingly stated, “You could not afford NOT sending the second book.  The risk of Book #1 not arriving on time was too great.”  Gotta love that man!

Also, after 42 days, Sasha has finally received the postcards I sent him.


Sasha’s Mother is out of the hospital.

Tina, Thank you for the concern... Mother will never be good already. Almost every day she takes pain killers. She suffers joint pains and many other illnesses in addition to heart. … To say more, she tries even to help me; when Sereja is at my place, she prepares some food and "crawls out" to the kitchen garden to water the carrot, parsley and other agro-cultures and tries, successfully, to direct Sasha: what he should do and what he should not to....


Sereja (Sasha’s son) is now out of school for the summer and will be staying with Sasha for the next few weeks

“Sereja has a party at school today (Friday) on the occasion of the end of primary school.  Now, we are going out with Sereja to the town to have his hair cut.
I visited Sereja’s Advancement to Secondary School Celebration.  There was dinner, dancing and each of the children released a balloon with their secret wish attached to it. 
Ex wife Lena was there too.

Just 3 weeks until Sasha’s scheduled arrival …

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Playbook 2.0

Before you read today’s story, I ask each of you to take a moment and say a silent “Thank You” to all our U.S. Postal Workers.  Better yet, next time you see one - actually thank them for what they do.  Over the years I have sent numerous greeting cards and small tokens to Sasha; he did not receive many of them.  Very frustrating.  This latest notebook was sent with 8-10 day Express Delivery from LA to Dinskya where Sasha lives.  The Russian Post office is slow moving resulting in an estimated 34 day delivery time instead!  So why did I pay for that urgent delivery?


Now for Today’s story…
Today as with most days, the first thing I do (after brushing teeth) is to go to my office and check for emails from Sasha.  This morning’s caught me by surprise.  I was expecting a “Hello, the Notebook is here!”  (Since it is now 6 days overdue).  Instead Sasha wrote that the Russian postal service estimates they will deliver it on June 5th.   He leaves for the Moscow interview that evening.    We needed a few days to finalize the contents of the book.  That sure did not start my day well!

The next action was to post a blog and email the team.  Results happen when energy is focused on something.  I called out for earthly and heavenly assistance.

Playbook 2.0 Ready to Go
Next was a phone call to Federal Express.  Questions:  What shipping options are there for getting a package to rural Russia in the next week?  And more importantly: “Does Fed Ex handle the package until its delivery, or does the Russian postal service carry it?”

Answer:  “Fed Ex carries the package to its delivery point -- except for the time at Russian Customs. No guarantees there.   You have ONE option to get the parcel there by Friday, May 31st.  The cost is $$$.   You must get it to the Fed Ex airport office by this afternoon.  (Monday is also a US Holiday).”

So… as of 9 a.m. this morning, I began re-creating the Sasha notebook.  People have asked if I kept a scanned copy.  It’s not that simple.  Think “scrapbook” versus scanned letters. There’s more to it than simple pages.  There are inserts, sealed original letters, etc.  Out came the colored papers, cutters, plastic page protectors, dividers, label maker, post its, tape, new binder, etc.  Took a break at noon for some breakfast cereal.  By 2 p.m. the notebook was by my door ready to go. I changed out of pajamas and headed to the airport.
The lady at the Fed Ex office had me filling out all sorts of forms.  There was one rate for 2 lbs. or under and another rate over 2 lbs.  I had carefully tried to determine which pages and dividers were highest priority and how many blank sleeves to include, etc.  I held my breath as the book was weighed …  The scale read exactly 2.00 lbs!  Thank You Angels.  The new Playbook was sent out around 2:30 this afternoon with delivery expected on Friday, May 31st.


I did stop at the local Post Office where I had mailed the first notebook.  They said there was nothing they could do once the parcel was in the custody of the Russian postal service.


Leaving the airport today I had the thought, “Geez!  It might have been easier to fly this book to meet Sasha in Moscow and hand it to him directly!”  LOL  Trying to laugh a little, ‘cause I sure felt like crying earlier today.

Parcel Delayed

On 2 May 2013, I mailed the “Playbook” to Sasha with all our supporting documents, photos, and more.  It was sent from a US Post Office - International Express Mail with an 8-10 day delivery time (working days).  As of yesterday (May 22), Sasha had not yet received the package! 

Yesterday I tracked the parcel.  It was “Processed Through Sort Facility in LA” on May 5.
On May 17 it was “Processed Through Sort Facility, Russian Federation”. “Customs Clearance Complete, Russian Federation on May 20.

Today Sasha did some checking on his end. Here is what he wrote:

Yes, it is in the Russian Federation, but is still somewhere in Moscow. They say there was a fire at the mail sorting station about two weeks ago. We shall hope there was no your parcel there that time yet. The time estimated of its arrival in Dinskya is June 5, as I was told at the Post Office today...

Sasha’s Interview at the Embassy is June 6!  He was to have that notebook in hand by May 17 so that we could finalize the pages and rehearse his presentation.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One Month Away

At 12:03 a.m. this morning I sent Sasha an email: “It is now May 16th.  Just one month from today you are scheduled to arrive in CA.  Counting down the days...”

His reply:   J  Again, I cannot even imagine - what is real America? I think everything will be taking place with someone else, but not with me... Too far and away country.... Too distant dreams... But, we shall live and see. Everything is possible with the help of Angels and Heavens... “

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thanks Lou?

A few weeks ago when Sasha was given the date of June 6, for his next interview, that date sounded familiar to me.  Took me a while to realize that was the date 5 years ago when my friend Lou passed away.  He and I had been friends since high school.  For the final month of his life, I was at his hospital bedside nearly every night after work.  I would then go home and email his family and friends (many of whom were out of state) about the occurrences of his day.  He was no longer able to speak which was agony for him since his PASSION was communication and film.

When I realized the COINcidence of the June 6 date, I “talked” to Lou.  He was a good persuader when he was on Earth, so I asked him if maybe he would assist on The Sasha Project from the Other side?  Maybe “speak” persuasively to the Embassy interviewing agent or something?

Last week I received an email from a Ph.D. Student at USC.  He and his professor are conducting research on “bloggers who update their blogs frequently and write about the occurrences of their everyday lives”.  They plan to work with 15-20 persons and had searched many blogsites, before coming across mine.  Also as part of this study, they are filming a documentary “to bring attention to the human, and relatable, side of our research…”  I emailed them asking for more details as well as sharing a few of my objectives for the two blogs.

Today Sonia called and said that the Human Interest part of the blog was just what she was seeking!  The next step was to schedule the film crew to come out to the Penny Palace.  After talking to her I wondered, “How/Why would a research team from USC be ‘lead’ to our blogsite out of the thousands of potential options?”  Then I remembered -- I had asked for Lou’s assistance from the other side!  He was extremely proud of earning his B.S. degree in the Film School at USC!  COINcidence?  Thanks Lou?!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Where there are big goals, there are big hurdles.  First the U.S. Visa Refusal, then Sasha’s back injury, now his mother.  OK.  Things usually come in threes, so maybe that takes care of that and we will have clear sailing from now on…

Email Update from Sasha
Yesterday I was working in the vegetable garden at 5 p.m. Though not for long. Mother, though very weak because of her illness, tried helping me. At night she felt herself very bad, and I had to call the Ambulance. Something wrong with her heart.... So - mother is hospitalized,

We have been realizing that perhaps The Sasha Project is meant to touch a greater audience in some way.  Today I was contacted by a researcher at USC.  His team has begun a Documentary film on frequent bloggers.  Perhaps this is a way The Sasha Journey and its message of international goodwill can be shared with even more people!  Who knows where this will lead…
More happy ripples on the pond.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Self Taught

Two weeks have passed since Sasha’s first interview in Moscow and the refusal of his U.S. Visa.  That morning sure changed our plans and our lives!  We have now been connected with dozens of wonderful people we would not have met if not for this “hiccup”.

That first week was a whirlwind of urgent actions.  This week is a little quieter.

Monday (when his back was so painful) Sasha wrote:
Hello Tina!  I just have one plan and that is: to be able to have six lessons (from 12 till 7 p.m.) that's all for today. There will be four more Holiday days off ahead and looks like no lessons ... so I have to do it today regardless my back...

Tuesday Sasha wrote:
I feel better and was able to have lessons.
Today Ahad came for the lesson. We discussed with him the book - "The Headless Horseman”, which he is reading.

….I really have a kind of phobia. The reason I didn't do it (comment on the Blog)...I am just ashamed to expose my English all over the world. ... I have a strong feeling that my English is imperfect....That was always the reason I wanted to visit the US. Not to stay there for good, searching easier life or something in this way... I just wanted to be immersed into the language and to see its beauties in its real environment...

I told Sasha that he speaks and writes English much better than any of us can speak or write Russian.  I, for one, am truly impressed with how much he has taught himself!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Owl Drive

Flash Drive for Sasha Project
Last week’s lesson was: Keep asking “What more can go Right?”  That question is good enough to keep using it THIS week as well!  It’s fun when it works even for little things.  For instance:  This evening I decided it was time to get a flash drive dedicated to the Sasha project and get the electronic files in order.  I did not want a boring, average flash drive.  This one needed to be unique.  I planned to look for one tomorrow at the store.  A few minutes ago I found an owl-shaped flash drive buried in my office. Owl = wisdom. That works.  Also, when I was in Russia for adoption of my two nephews, there was one night in particular which was uhhh…challenging. I was in the lobby of the hotel asking Spirit for wisdom and help.  There was a little owl lapel pin with an amber stone for sale.  I bought it as a reminder to ask for wisdom.  That owl now lives next to my kitchen sink where I see it every day.  So storage of the Sasha Files is the Perfect Use for this Owl Flash Drive.  COINcidence?

A few hours ago David (Host Family #12) wrote:   The Universe has spoken!
Good Morning,
My name is Kristen and I am an aide for Congressman Sam Farr. I am writing to let you know that I have received your inquiry regarding a visa for Mr. Sasha Romanov. I have opened a case on your behalf and will be sending a letter in support of Mr. Romanov’s visa to the Embassy in Moscow… 

Report on Sasha:
A few days ago he really hurt his back.  Spent the weekend mostly in bed and in a great deal of pain.  Has had an injection for the pain.  His email earlier today:
Today I had three lessons (one of them I did in my bed teaching from there).
I shared more information with my students about the blog.  Some of them showed their interest to visit Sasha's site....  ;-)

Blog Site:
Sasha’s Journey Blogsite has now been operational for 5 days.  In that time there have been 169 unique visitors to the site: U.S. (115), Russia (41), Germany (5), S. Korea (4), Australia (3) and Ireland (1).

The Ripples of Goodwill are Spreading out further and further …

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Sasha Files

Today Sasha provided me with additional data. One more page completed for our Interview “playbook”.

Last November when I began action on bringing Sasha to the U.S., I used one manila file folder to keep my notes.  Then in January I started making calls to other families and the pile of notes began to grow.  Now there are two 3-ring binders, 8 hanging files, and numerous sub folders, plus more emails than I can keep sorted.  LOL

Tina Organizing The Sasha Files
Last year Doc (husband) and I completed the construction phase of our new home (the Penny Palace).  The dining room is still buried under files and piles and rolls of plans and sample products and …  Today I was converting the Construction File folders (framing, concrete, electrical, septic, etc.) to The Sasha Files.  It was good to corral some of the papers which were starting to spread all over the house.  Now there are files on the visa application and interview, political assistance, legal counsel, insurance, blog development, tickets and travel, contacts with the hosting families, media interface, itinerary and daily activities, etc.

Nothing Magnificent is Easy!

Penny Finders:
As I walked into the grocery store tonight there was a bright shiny penny just inside the door.  As I reached past a child to retrieve the coin, I spotted a larger coin on the floor of check out lane #2.  Too many people there to bulldoze down.  Of course after getting all our groceries, Doc and returned to lane #2 to check out.  You would think one out of the 20-30 persons who walked through that line, would have retrieved the quarter.  Guess it was meant for me!  There were two additional pennies before leaving the store.

Coins Found:   (3) P, (0) N, (0) D, (1) Q = 4 coins     Value:  $0.28

Friday, May 3, 2013

Going Right

Yesterday I sent an email question to my Penny Tale Readers:  Who wants to jump on board for this new Sasha Journey?  The responses were hilarious, touching and surprising.  A few people forwarded the invitation, and now additional passengers are jumping on ‘the Happy Train”!

What happened today?
1:43 a.m.            Purchased Sasha’s ticket to visit the Space Shuttle
11:10 a.m.            Shared the latest updates with everyone in my yoga class
                        Smiles and joy shared.  Promises of prayers.
12:31 p.m.            Incoming Email from Congressman Miller’s Office: 
Attached is the letter that was emailed to the Moscow Consulate today. Please let us know the outcome of Alexander’s interview.”
                  (Recall that I submitted a request for assistance just yesterday!)  A 22-hour response time!

3:30 p.m.            Text from friend Mandy.  “Could I drop by your house after work today and hang out there for a little?”  In the 20 years I have known Mandy, she has never just dropped by after work!  Could it be because …..  last night I was working on design of this blogsite and so frustrated.  This afternoon I was going to make another attempt at the template edits and just dreading the thought of it. 

Angel Mandy working on Blogsite Edits
5:30 p.m.            “Angel” Mandy came over and within 5 minutes had taught me how to do the blogsite edits!  COINcidence?

Keep asking, “What More can go Right?”

… and for you Penny Finders:  3 pennies and 1 quarter at WalMart today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Playbook Shipped

Our "Playbook"

I was having fun with Sasha this morning and teasing him: “Do you realize there were 32 hits on your blogsite before you even knew it existed?  (29 from U.S., 2 from Germany, 1 from S. Korea?)"

“The Best Defense is a Strong Offense.”  Thus, today our “Playbook” was shipped to Sasha.  He should have it in his hands within 2 weeks.  Thanks to the persons who rushed photos and letters so those could be included.  I put plenty of additional blank sleeves for the remaining documents which can be electronically sent after we receive or edit them accordingly.

The Angels are at work on this project.  On a “typical day”, the local post office has two or three tellers and a line of 8-12 customers.  Today there was only one teller and I was the only customer!  “COINcidence”?  She had plenty of time to explain the shipping options and assist with the Customs documentation (lengthy process).  Her name: JOY!

The next stop was Congressman Miller’s office.  Last week I spoke with Heather and expected merely to hand her Sasha’s and my Request Form.  She was not in, so another person assisted me.  I explained the story (I guess a bit loudly) and Patricia emerged saying she could not help overhearing my story.  J  She said sometimes an official letter can be helpful and they would be sure to FAX a letter of support for me.

…. And the traffic signals were almost all green and I made all my other appointments on time … and I found myself asking: “What else can go RIGHT?”

Ira Reading New Blogsite

Email and photo from Sasha tonight:
"My student Ira is reading the blog in my kitchen..".
(you'll recall Ira is the one who wrote to me yesterday and provided the impetus to finally 'birth' this Blog).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inaugural Posting

Today was the first time I have ever been contacted by one of Sasha's students.  She emailed the following: 

"My name's Irina (Ira) and I'm pupil of Aleksandr Romanov. I read your (PennyFinders) blog in our lesson yesterday.               
... you make a hard work for meeting witn Aleksandr! It's very cool! 

I wish you to will achieve it and Aleksandr will fly to the United States!
I would like to get news from your blog."

I had been toying with the idea of a blogsite for Sasha's Journey, but I dread computer stuff.  Computers and I don't get along all that well. But how could I NOT do this, when the Angels are "nudging" me?  Plus, it is May 1st.  The beginning of a new month and a great day to begin something new.

So, this afternoon I began working on this blog site.  I tried many addresses for the site, but none of them were available.  A few I tried were:  SashasAdventure, SashasTour, SashasTravel and more.  Finally in exasperation I asked Angels for an address: 
It was Available!

The next step was to select a template.  Most of them were too fancy for what I could maintain; ones with only colored squares were a little to bland.  
Look at this template. Perfect!  Books. Books. Books!  Sahsa is a voracious reader.
And ALL OF US are learning so very much about Dreaming Big!

Now I need to go back and post some blogs about all these adventures over the past few months ...