Author: Grace H. is a junior in high school and is on her second trip to Russia. She is traveling with her mom, dad and younger sister. Perhaps most importantly, today is Grace’s birthday, one of four birthdays we are celebrating here in Russia.
People tend to think that going to Russia, or any other sort of mission trip, is above their head. I’m sorry but you are wrong. This is my sixth mission trip, second to Russia, and surprisingly it has gotten…. easier. Cold showers are nothing, eating bread at every meal is no big deal, getting five hours of sleep is average, not being able to speak the language doesn’t even phase you.
Today I got to see my two little brothers, Zhenya and Stas. They were my birthday present I told them and only had smiles on their faces. Since they are so young they don’t quite understand the language barrier. Sometimes they talk really slow and loud thinking I would get it, but no, every sentence ends with “Ya ni pannimayoo” meaning “I don’t understand.”
These two boys shine out, from the moment we walk into the orphanage doors in the morning to when I tuck them into bed, and we are bound together. Words are not important to each other. Our relationship is based on switching nametags, dancing together, singing one another’s names, making funny faces, hugs and kisses. We don’t need a translator. We can read each other. We can see in each other’s eyes more than one can say with simple words. Throughout the day I was reminded why I made this 48-hour trek, to see their faces.
Later year prior to the trip my family sponsored six children, but none of them were “mine.” Zhenya and I clicked suddenly without even saying a word to one another and now he is my official sponsor child, but we are more than just that, we are brother and sister. Today when some other boys were tickling and picking on me, it was Zhenya’s job to step in and put those other boys in place.
Stas always has a smile; little green-eyed, blonde haired, and freckled face boy who is always the observer and never the center of attention. We constantly bumped into one another and finally he broke out of his shell to ask my name. Stas would be categorized as a hand holder. No matter where, how long, or when, we are holding hands.
Neither of them nor I have talked about our families, backgrounds, or lives. We can only be absorbed in one another. That’s all we do, and that’s all we will do. They are my other half here, making up for the distance from home and time a reward for the long travel.
PS – I’m now 17!!