(Continued Caveats – this was written when we thought we might have semi-regular access to the internet. That did not happen but I’ve kept the post the same. More are coming and we’ll do our best to post them in order.)
Generosity comes in many forms and some times, it’s something as simple as staying late at work that makes a huge difference. As you can tell by now, our Internet access is quite limited, resulting in multiple blog posts being updated at once. If not for the generosity of Misha and a friend, we might not have any internet access at all.
Our posts are being updated at a local school that has internet access – but since our day is so long, we have to post late at night. The headmaster at the school, Andrey, has agreed to stay late tonight (after 9:00 p.m.) to enable us to update this blog. He is sacrificing his personal time so that some complete strangers can use his computers. We are so thankful for his generous gift of time and for Misha’s willingness to ask for this favor on our behalf.
Today was our first full day at the orphanage, a “typical” day if there is one. After our breakfast in the cafeteria, we went in pairs to teach the courses we had developed for the kids. The children are in school this week so we were invited to teach courses about our life in America that might be interesting. We brainstormed and came with the following ideas:
- A Day in the Life of an American Teenager
- Seven Wonders of the World
- American Sports
- Four Great American Cities
We had spent the last few months preparing these classes, using a combination of PowerPoint, visual aids, interactive exercises and bribery (aka candy). The classes have been quite the hit. The kids have been very engaged – as have been the teachers who graciously gave up their classrooms. Each class has its own twist ranging from letting the kids try peanut butter to writing postcards to sponsor to trying on a UNC basketball jersey to earning candy for good participation.
We hope the children learned something but we know they had a blast! We taught four classes the first day, which included a tea break in between the first two classes where we were honored to try a glass of fresh milk from Galina’s cow.
Lunch was followed by our activity centers – another favorite of the kids. We had a room with Bingo, Board Games (with some Heads Up/Seven Up thrown in) and games in the gym, which turned into soccer/futbol outside. These activities are always fun, allowing for some general playtime and more opportunity to interact with the kids in smaller groups.
Galina has started a new tradition this year, something she is calling “Lights of Friendship.” During evenings at dinner, we are able to sit with a small group of kids (which is the first time we have done this). Breaking bread with the kids is such a special treat. We have the chance to talk and engage with the children in a much more serene environment. There’s nothing like dinner as a family, whether you’re in Russia or Chapel Hill. This has been a unique opportunity that has created a strong and lasting connection with a small group of kids. We are looking forward to having this opportunity every night with the children.
We then spent the rest of the night with the same small group of kids including playing/interacting with them after dinner and putting them down at night. Some groups went outside to play games like hide-and-go-seek, while others took a walk around school grounds and while the rest just hung out inside and talked.
After our post-dinner activity, we went inside to tuck in the children. This final activity is so personal and intimate. Each child reacts differently to the tuck in time – some like to talk, some are quite and some even get emotional.
As I reread this, it comes across more as a travelogue of the hour-by-hour activities rather than an intimate portrait of our journey. But maybe that’s okay. Because for now, this is a work in progress. And we’re processing what’s happening. Lots of moving pieces, lots of shifting emotions. That’s the way God works…and He is indeed working here right now.