Thank you for joining me for this four part story. Originally it was only suppose to be two parts, but I had so much to share with you that I broke it down into several parts for your convenience. So here is the conclusion of the adventures with my first month of orphans!
Sunglasses are a big thing as you can see in these photos. They loved any set they could get their hands on! Slavic wore these Elton John inspired glasses out to Bass Pro after church one Sunday. As per usual, I had lost my prescription glasses but luckily found my cheap Walmart sunglasses when I moved. Slavic wanted to try on my sunglasses! So I traded with him. I loved the way that he didn’t care that they were pink; he just wanted them because I rocked them. So we struck a pose out side the store (see he’s really not shy!).
Speaking of sunglasses, the kids loved being “cool”. You cab see Katya pose all hip in mirrored sunglasses like a rock star. They enjoyed our slang as well. As a life-long Southerner, I call everyone “baby” or “hun”. The girls would burst out laughing every time I called one of them “baby”. They would then try to imitating me. They also tried to teach me Russian.. II was a poor student and after month I had only learned six words: yes, no, car, wash/shower, car, bathroom/toilet, and thank you. They didn’t stop us from telling them when it was time to eat!
Meals were always a blast and it seemed like lunch is when we had the most fun. These children DEVOURED the food. They ate pretty much anything we put in front of them. Their favorite thing was the fruit, and they could pack away some watermelon. Its sad to know that these skinny kids only barely have enough to eat with a small variety of choices. Want a third corn dog? Go for it! But they were also the most generous children I had ever met. One day, we were having pizza and had to make sure there was enough for the children first. Nastya was having a fit because the volunteer wasn’t giving me a plate, She didn’t realize what was going on and was upset because she thought I wouldn’t get to eat. Another time, the children had Ice Pops. I said jokingly, “where’s mine?” He held up a finger to say “one minute” and then disappeared. Then he came back with a Popsicle just for me!
The last Sunday the children were here, we had an open house featuring a Ukrainian feast. We invited anyone and everyone who was interested in learning more about the program, wanted to see the facility, or just wanted to meet the children. It was a chance for the public to see what we do. Native Ukrainians sweated and worked hard in the hot kitchen to provide everyone with an authentic meal, It was quite an experiment to try all the new food! I loved the dumplings! As you can see from the picture of me and Katya, we all put on our finery to celebrate!
As much as I loved the children, the volunteers and house parents were amazing to be around! House parents stay overnight with the children, getting to know them, getting them ready for bed, and making them breakfast, and giving the staff a break. I met one couple who fell in love with a pair of sisters and the couple is looking into adopting them! They are an amazing couple whose children are gone. They are sweet and generous treating other volunteers with courtesy and respect. It was an honor to meet this couple and watch as their lives (and the childrens lives) are changed forever! In this photo that have been “baking” with play dough and having a blast with their house parent.
I saved this picture for last. Look at the intimacy she shared with me as she put her hand on my cheek! We made a connection! Neither of our lives will ever be the same. I am truly blessed to be here doing God’s work! Since I serve as a domestic ministry, I have to raise own support and depend on other who feel God’s call to help to pay my bills. This often brings great anxiety to me but it is worth it to be with these children, to make these life changing connections you see in this picture. As the staff of Bridges of Faith say this is our crucible. I wear it proudly.