Hey Everyone! Kylee (teens) and Ben (kids) here to fill you in on what’s been happening over here in Eastern Europe!
Life has been full speed ahead the past few days. The teens have become much more comfortable with us as well as more vulnerable and open with us. We are learning a lot more Russian and they have learned some English. Still most of our communication is through animated facial expressions, gestures, and awkward laughter.
We have covered a variety of topics over the past couple days including: kindness, patience, and making good choices. It has brought about a lot of discussion about their current situations and how they can respond right now in life. The past two days we have been able to spend most of our time outside with the kids. This is a privilege for the kids and a blessing for the staff to be able to have some help supervising. We play a lot of soccer and Frisbee as well as hang out and chat.
This afternoon I, (Kylee), spent most of my time with the teen girls learning Russian and met some other kids in the neighborhood. We were thrilled today to see some of the toughest girls in the group coming out of their shells, which included lots of hugs and volleyball.
Tonight during debrief Tanya told us the stories of most of the kids in the center. We will learn the rest tomorrow. Some of them aren’t so bad, just mistakes and miscommunication. Others are heartbreaking and hard to understand how parents would not be willing to fight for their kids. It was the much-needed motivation to finish out our last three days strong and love on the kids as much as possible!
I’ve, (Ben), never understood why nap-time for kids has been such a big deal. The kids we’ve worked with have been bursting with energy from the time we meet them in the morning to when we leave in the afternoon. This has been challenging at times, but we are steadily building relationships of trust with them, something most of them haven’t experienced much of in their past. The older boys love play fighting and are always looking for opportunities to jump on my back and shoulders, but I’ve noticed that it is becoming easier and easier to have more in-depth conversations with them. The younger kids mostly babble when they talk to us (according to our translator), but it has been a great joy to watch them laugh and play in an environment that is both safe and constructive. Our entire team asks that you pray specifically for the ability to have deeper conversations with kids of all ages.
Throughout our time in Russia, we’ve also had several opportunities to go sightseeing and shopping. On Thursday, we were sent off in pairs on an “assignment” to various Orthodox cathedrals and markets. Loran and I were paired up and made our way to St. Andrew’s Cathedral to answer several questions regarding the cathedral’s history, which wasn’t very easy to do since the only one who spoke a decent amount of Russian between the 2 of us was Google Translate. Nevertheless, we succeeded, bartered for some oranges Tanya asked us to buy from the market, and headed back to our living area via the Metro. However, on the way back, we got a bit overconfident, and took the train leading in the opposite direction of our stop, adding about 15 extra minutes to our journey. Despite this, it was still interesting to see parts of the Metro we hadn’t been to before.
Just as my past mission trips have been life-changing, this one has been as well. I’ve always felt that touching the lives of others in foreign countries has been one of my stronger callings, and whether you have supported me through prayer, monetary means, or both, thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity to not only grow myself as a believer, but to also reach out and plant Christ’s seed in the hearts of the lost.
Until Next Time! Kylee, Ben and the Team!