Friday, October 5, 2007

A brighter day

Yesterday’s orphanage experience left me feeling helpless and wanting to get the children out of there faster. I ended up crying myself to sleep.

Today I went to a different orphanage. I went into one of the groups where they were doing homework, so I could help with English. The counselor was yelling at one of the kids for being dishonest about her grades. I understand now that when Russians yell, they aren’t necessarily angry. Now that I can understand the words, I can tell when the words are kind even if by the volume it sounds like the two people are about to eat each other up.

First I helped Denis, one of the boys who used to be afraid of me. He was sitting there trying to find a pen that worked. It looked like he had taken two of them apart and couldn’t get them back together. A third exploded in his hands, sending ink all over. Just like a boy! We struggled through his homework, with me spelling out several of the words. After the last question he slammed the workbook shut triumphantly, but I made him open it again and repeat what he had just written to show that he could at least read his own handwriting.

Next the counselor sent me Olesya, the girl who had lied about her grades. Thanks very much, send me the grumpy teenager. :) My lesson plans were in the other room, so I tried to engage Olesya in simple conversation. She answered every question with “I don’t know” in Russian, which was annoying because by now she should be conversational. She has studied English for a few years and has even been to the States. I tried to introduce a game. At first all I could think of was Hangman, but that’s mostly a game I use with younger kids, to trick them into practicing the alphabet. Then I decided to use “Two truths and a lie,” and that got a smile out of Olesya. We took turns writing two true statements and one false about our preferences and hobbies. She wanted to play it several times.

After finishing with that group, I was supposed to go and visit another group. They are just starting English in school, but only once a week, so I also teach them once a week. Today they were at computer class, however, so it didn’t work out. I still had 20 minutes before leaving for my private lesson, and went to see my friend the piano teacher.

When I walked into the music room, she had a break. Perfect! We caught up on news and I invited her to play in a music café that we’re putting on at church. It would be a great opportunity for her to meet some Christians.

I left feeling encouraged.

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