We end each day at the orphanage with “family time.” Each team member is matched with a group of kids and we spend time together in the kids’ rooms before bed. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with the kids, and Galina has encouraged us to share our faith and life experiences with them, in the hopes our influence will be of benefit to them. My group is made up of 5th and 6th graders, some of whom recently transferred here from another orphanage. I only met these kids yesterday, but already they are telling me they love me and that they’re happy to know me.
We didn’t have a lot of time tonight for family time – only a few minutes to tuck the kids in their beds. When the time came to tell my group goodnight, my translator was busy with another task, so I headed upstairs to my group’s room alone. The kids know by now that I know some Russian, and they’re really fascinated that I can read and speak some of their language. As I climbed the stairs to the third floor, I considered what I would say. My Russian repertoire is limited, but I was able to tell each of them three things in Russian — “Good night. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I know it wasn’t much, but it was enough to show them that I love them, too. Usually, language presents a barrier that can only be bridged by one of the wonderful translators who round out our team. In my case however, tonight’s tuck-in was more special because I was able to do it alone, with my own words. The light in the kids’ eyes and the smiles on their faces showed me that it meant just as much to them as it did to me.