I’ll be writing about my experience with Mission 1:27 from a translator’s perspective primarily but also from a perspective of a person who grew up with Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” ideology and from a perspective of a Russian that is still having trouble explaining rationally the initial impulse that brings a bunch of amazing people across the ocean all the way from NC to Moscow (about 6000 miles, up to 20 hours with a connecting flight), Moscow to Kirov (another 500 miles on an overnight laid-back train that barely makes 80 kilometers an hour – we are on metric system, sorry for the inconvenience, but 80 looks a little more accomplished and efficient than 49,71 mph), and to a small place called Slobodskoy (another 20 miles from Kirov, about an hour or so depending on the road condition and the driver’s disposition). What is it that makes you want to come back and actually come back? This is the question that keeps me interested and startles me; the answers that I come up with make me want to believe in brighter future for the humanity.
Your unconditional love and passion for what you are doing, you giving yourself so freely and completely to the children and this place have melted down any skepticism and cynicism that might have been present in the minds of anyone who has not been part of the life-changing experience on either side of the ocean. The meaning of unconditional love is no mystery, but how to achieve it may be a dilemma for many – thank you for showing what it is to the children and to all of us as well. I also wanted to thank you for your passion for what you are doing, your time and energy. Thank you for your continuity with the program; it means a lot to the kids in Slobodskoy. The mission makes us all want to be better people and concentrate on the main things: caring for other people around us, loving and giving out freely part of ourselves.
In your mission, sometimes, you had no translators at your side to help you in your verbal communication with the kids; however, a visual contact is often a more valuable thing as it is directed towards just one person, whereas words usually are perceived to be directed towards more than 2 people. (That was an attempt to apologize for the translating flaps and not always being there with you when you needed us – there is an opportunity to improve here for us). I remember I came across one analogy that struck me as it is a very accurate illustration of what it means to be a good translator. I don’t remember the author but it was close to “not anyone who is bilingual can be an interpreter, and having two hands does not automatically make a person a concert pianist…” Everyone needs some talent, proper training and a wish to exceed in one’s job. We thank you for your patience with us and for giving us another chance to improve. At better times, it’s been a great luck to transcend borders with you and to help you make the implicit understood; all of us (the translators) believe it’s been a great privilege to serve as “bridges” between the 2 worlds. Working with you has always been a tremendous learning experience for the translators’ team. But working with you does go far beyond the language training and practice – it’s learning to care and not be indifferent to the needs around us. I am a better person, a better mother and wife having been a part of this experience and there would not be enough words to express the gratitude to Mission 1:27.
The children in Slobodskoy need love and care like no one else in this world. They didn’t get to choose on the type of the environment they are growing up in; they are vulnerable and insecure. Security will only come if there is a feeling of acceptance and appreciation which you bring with you to the children. They might not be able to express their feelings due to their lack of experience but they always look forward to your return and to your visits. Do you remember Natasha with a happy smile complaining about her sore throat? When you come, they are open, happy, a little more confident and all rattled up. Every day for one entire week becomes special. You are the images that inspire us to open our hearts with compassion and wisdom as we try to embrace the amazing diversity all about us. Thank you for sacrificing your time, for caring and breaking your hearts over these special kids. Kids in greatest need, with special cognitive abilities and a disadvantaged start in their lives.
It does make a difference in their lives when they know that people care about them. This is important because they know they are worth something and they are worth being loved and cared for — most of them know what denial is and most of them have been rejected; some more than once. Thank you for your consistency and for forming long-term relationships — this is another proof for the kids that they can form trustworthy relationships with adults who would not give up on them or betray them. Your friendship, letters and visits mean to some of them more than you know: it’s a holiday, unexpected gifts in their lives. Sometimes you cannot tell if there has been any change; there are not a lot of external changes though they definitely feel more confident in themselves. Most changes are internal and they would come out with time. Our hope is that this experience would help them be responsible adults and parents in the future.
There are physical changes to the orphanage – you helped build a playground, purchased a lot of sports equipment, ping-pong tables and many more things. However, the internal changes that are taking place at Slobodskoy are more exciting to watch. It is exciting to see what the future with M127 has in store for the orphans.
Your mission has impacted the lives of every single person here in Russia — the children, the educators, the translators. Here’s some of the interpreters’ feedback on the trip:
“The best thing about the trip was the communication with the kids and the team from Chapel Hill; I enjoyed being “a bridge” between the children and the Americans. The call to join the trip came just at the moment I felt very depressed. And now I feel happy and catch myself smiling while walking on the streets. The week in Slobodskoy really changed my world!” (Katya O.)
“It was really a great week as any week spent with NC team.
I’m looking forward to seeing our friends again.” (Katya K.)
We all missed our friends Holly, Christi, Norma, Laura, Doug, Tony, BJ, Shay in March but were blessed to make new friends: Kathy, Scott & Chloe, Rush & Robert. We look forward to seeing new faces and making new friends. Thank you for your kind hearts. You are the people who I respect most, out of everybody in this world.
God Bless you for reaching over to Slobodskoy orphans and for ministering them!