Wednesday Reflections – by Tony

Strange start to my day.  Could not sleep most of last night.  Probably going on about 2-3 hours of sleep at most.  Also not feeling my best.  Nor is my roommate, BJ.  The rest of the group seems fine.  Finally it was raining outside.  Because of this I started the day feeling it would be long, hard and not very fun.  Well, I could not have been more wrong.  Just another great day.  I am starting to think it is not possible to have a bad day here.

The day opened with refection time with our pastor, Christi.  We all spoke about the trip so far.  I choked up a bit when I shared my story of seeing God at work in the hallway when I was alone with the boys.  There is no doubt the hand of God was on me that moment when I was surrounded by orphans with no way to talk out loud.  It was one of the greatest moments of my life.  I am glad I stayed awake to see it.

We loaded up the bus at 9:30am, arriving at the orphanage a few short minutes later.  We immediately went to teach our classes, same as yesterday.  Today we had only two classes to teach.  It was a fast pace and fun morning.  The students love the slang so much.  They love the peanut butter too.  After the classes, we went to the dining hall for a very special tea with Galina and her primary staff.  It was an extremely important 90 minutes to interact with the key staff.  I was lucky enough to sit next to the gym teacher, Victoria.  I enjoyed our conversation so very much, we had such a good time talking about the students and her role in helping them.  We spoke a lot about Field Hockey.  She would like to teach the students the game but does not have any equipment.  I told her about a club at Carrboro High that might be able to help change that fact.  During the tea we presented Galina with two gifts for the orphanage, a microwave and a guitar.  Both were well received.  We immediately borrowed the guitar & sang two songs to the group.

I should note today was Craig’s birthday.  This fact was not hard to miss, as Galina started the celebration at the tea and continued it well into the evening.  Galina did a great job recognizing Craig on his important day.  He received so many nice gifts.  My personal favorites were the bagel necklace and the Russian hat.  I cannot wait to share those pictures!

After the tea, we had a short break in the Library.  Because I wanted to see the orphans, I sneaked out and went to the game room.  All by myself.  Just me walking into a world that I could not speak the language.  It was another great experience.  We have such fun talking without out words.  I feel it is like a gift from God, the fact I seem to have no fear as I go out into this world.  I must give credit for such to my parents who taught me to try & to Patsy, Maddie & Max who have shown me to not worry so much.

Lunch was wonderful.  I sat with Galina & enjoyed a wonderful conversation.  We spoke at length about my family & how impressed I am with all their gifts.  Galina seemed interested in two things: (1) Maddie and (2) the Internet.  We spoke a long time about both.  At the end of the conversation she asked me to assist with her press conference later in the week.  I felt honored.  If she remembers and asked me again on Friday, I will indeed be ready to assist.

After lunch we had the Galina Olympics.  They were supposed to last 30 minutes.  They lasted nearly two hours.  I was on Team LEGO (Max will know exactly what that means).  We performed well.  The contest involved a lot of running.  I was hot, sweaty & very tired.  Yet I had so much fun.  The kids borrowed my camera and took so many pictures.  The camera stopped working by the end, as the battery gave out.  I am glad I have the charger here with me.

Next was free time.  Time to hang out with the kids and talk.  Play games.  Ruslan & Vova found me.  We played Uno.

Free time was very short today, as the day had gotten away from all of us.  Dinner was next.  I was with the same team as yesterday.  Small group of 1st, 2nd & 3rd graders.  Nine boys in all.  Tom & I are assigned to have dinner with them each night.  This was night two of that assignment.  We spoke about the great day we all just had.  Then we got serious for a moment, as I asked the boys to make me a promise, a promise to write one letter, as a team, once per month.  They agreed.  I told them that we had to shake on that promise.  They agreed.  After the serious talk, we talked at length about Marvel Super Heroes, mostly about Iron Man, Spider-man and the Hulk.

Next was Movie Night, we showed them Toy Story, in Russian.  We had popcorn, popped in the new microwave.  I brought in my almonds & cheese crackers.  The orphans loved all the treats.  Coz loved my almonds.  I gave him the entire container and told him to keep it.  Misha came over to try some as well.  As the movie ended, we rushed upstairs to put the boys to bed.  Lights out was quick, as the day was long & Galina wanted everyone sleeping at 8pm.

The bus took us back to the hotel.  I played a quick game of pool (Russian style).  I lost to Misha.  I was asleep by 9:30pm.  Life is good.

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