Last week I started to tell you about my first month with the orphans. I have so many great stories that the post started to get really long. I’ve broken that mega post into several smaller chunks so I can truly express the emotions I felt while working with these children. So without further ado, here’s Part Three.
The kids go on a lot of trips to learn and experience Southern Culture. We went to the McWane Science Center shortly before the children went back home. In the picture to the left, you can see one of our children experiencing science. He is laying on a bed of needles and it was amazing to see his look of apprehension turn into pure joy when it didn’t hurt him. I tired it myself. It was vaguely comfortable but hurt my joints. Guess that means no acupuncture for me!
There was so much to do and see there! The kids enjoyed making giant bubbles bigger than themselves and playing at the various water stations learning about currents and streams. Surprisingly my charge’s favorite part wasn’t the dinosaurs! Slavic really loved exploring all the neat things in the Itty Bitty Magic City. I thought it would be about magic when I saw it on the map, but to Slavic’s delight, it was a play town! There was a place for climbing and sliding and a variety of train and toy station but the main attraction was the fake city! We explored the grocery store, the vet, the diner and the dire department. Slavic’s favorite place was the auto shop. He happily spent a good thirty minutes under the toy car repairing it. The town is meant for Kindergarten kids and younger and Slavic was a little bit older than that but we snuck in anyway. He was so respectful of others sharing happily and just enjoying this time to use his imagination. Suffice to say, we had a great time that day!
The children also enjoy doing a variety of crafts. They put together a scrapbook of their trip to remind them of all their adventures. It brought tears to my eyes when Nastya proudly showed me a picture of her and me horseback riding displayed prominently in her book. She was so excited to have that moment captured and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about her in the Ukraine looking at that photo. But it wasn’t just the girls who enjoyed the crafts! Our two eldest boys concentrated hard on their art and had clear visions of what they should look like. It was great to see that they were not affected by gender roles that dictated men didn’t do crafts. Their crosses and canvas were some of the most beautiful. I also had one boy whose favorite toy was a Barbie. No one told them not enjoy anything and they were able to express themselves.
The children are wonderfully playful. They desire attention and to proudly show off their skills. They were also calling “Audrey, come!” I was invited to ping pong, to color, to sit beside them during meals, to see performing daring jumps into the pool. Each one had their own personality but the shy ones eventually came out of their shells. They loved to make silly faces! If you took a picture, they wanted too follow it up with a silly one. I have so many pictures of them sticking their tongues out and giving me “attitude.” It was such a delight!
Looking at this photograph you would think Slavic is shy, but he really isn’t even though he tried to cover his face with his hands. So I had a brilliant idea: I would get a hug picture! These children give a plethora of hugs! They just want all the love we can spare for them. They loved high fiving and side poking (too bad I’m not ticklish). In this picture, my smile isn’t about the camera; it’s not a pose. It’s a smile straight from my heart from the out pouring of love from Slavic. I miss them all so much. I need some of those honest, truthful hugs.
Next week will conclude my adventures with these first group of orphans. But no worries I will have new stories when the second group comes in August!