Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dilemma

I decided to teach the 3rd graders cursive. I thought they could handle it, and I didn't want them to be deprived, even though I'm pretty bad at writing in cursive myself.


Let's review how the first two cursive sessions went. Here are some visual aids.




In Week 1, the kids got tired after tracing the entire alphabet in cursive, so I let them stop at M in their notebooks.



In Exhibit A below, Katya managed to skip 4 letters between F and K, which I then added for her.

In Week 2, the kids claimed that it would be too difficult to write 13 more letters in cursive. So I let them do three more, N, O, P.




Katya spent most of the lesson crawing around under the table, but first made a fairly decent N, O, P.










Lolita did fairly well in Week 1. In Week 2, she wrote N, but then got confused and looked at the wrong line, writing K. After I directed her to the correct line, she wrote O and P in reverse order.
















Galya also did well in Week 1. In Week 2, she made a beautiful N and then got tired.
















Misha gets an A for effort. Unfortunately, he was absent for Week 2 and went to Karate class instead.



So I 'm thinking about abandoning the cursive idea, but I'm not sure. In Russian class we learned cursive right away. But is it really needed in English? Only if you're going to be writing letters. Obviously for native speakers it's important, but should I enforce it in ESL? The kids are getting by okay with the print. On the other hand, maybe it will be difficult for them if it becomes necessary to learn cursive later and they're only familiar with print.
Sigh.

The Future of Missionaries in Russia

Some amendments to one-year visa requirements are going to change things for missionaries in Russia, as well as for other foreigners here with the same kind of visa.

To put it simply, with the kind of visa I have now, I can leave and enter the country as I please within the one-year period. Last year the requirements added a clause that foreigners had to leave every 6 months and come back in and reregister. But that could be done by simply crossing the border into Estonia or Finland and then coming back in, even that same day.

Under the new amendments, a foreigner with a one-year visa to Russia can remain in Russia for a maximum of only 90 days within a 180-day period, and 180 days in one year. So even though the visa is for one year, you can only physically be in Russia for half of that. If you want to maximize your time spent in Russia, you will have to observe the following schedule: 3 months in Russia, 3 months somewhere else, 3 months in Russia, 3 months somewhere else. For short-term missionaries who come and go often, it might work out okay. But it simply will not do for anyone who wants to live here full-time.

The law is supposedly in effect, but I don’t think can be applied to anyone who already had their visa. Meanwhile, Russian Consulates around the world have not been uniformly notified, so foreigners currently trying to settle visa questions are being given a variety of answers. It is going to take some investigating to obtain clearer answers. But within a year, as one-year visas begin to expire, a lot of foreigners in Russia will be thinking about what to do next.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Religious freedom?




This weekend I traveled to Vyborg with a group of kids from one of the orphanages I work with. I'll write more about it later, but I wanted to comment on something we saw in a museum there.





This display shows some items confiscated by the border guards 20 or so years ago. This included anything from drugs and pornography to Christian literature.





Among the "dangerous" books is "More than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell.



Unwelcome visitors

One morning last week I woke up and heard rustling sounds in my room. I had the feeling that I was not alone, but I couldn't think how any creatures could have gotten into my room. Sometimes I hear the rats in the walls, but there are no openings for them to enter the room itself. Yet the sounds seemed so close by. Later Tanya and I agreed that it was probably something in the walls.

Meanwhile, I was packing my things to move to another apartment. My room was in disrepair. At the end of the day I packed for several hours. I finally stumbled into bed around 2 am and reached to turn out the light. But the rustling began again. It had to be in the room. I heard the sound travel around the room, from behind one bed to behind another, to behind the bookcase. I sat on my bed waiting for something or someone to emerge. It reminded me of the bats back in Massachusetts. I would hear them scratching, and despite being afraid to meet them face-to-face, I wanted to see the creature behind the noise. Once I flung open the little door to the storage space, and an injured bat was lying there, flapping around on the floor.

So I continued my vigil for a few minutes, wondering what I would see. Finally a little dark shape scampered out from one piece of furniture and ran behind another. It was a little mouse. Now my curiosity was satisfied, but I was not looking forward to spend a night with a mouse. I turned my computer on to see if anyone online had any suggestions. My sister was still online. She suggested that I imagine the mouse as a cute storybook character, completely harmless and probably terrified of me. Eventually I went to sleep.

The next evening was another packing session. I hadn't heard any noises and was satisfied that Mr.Mouse had left. I got into bed, exhausted. But before I could fall asleep, it began again. It was already after 2. Please Mr.Mouse, let me sleep! Each time I began to drift off, it would begin again. Finally I turned the light back on and tiptoed over to where the noises were coming from. The mouse had jumped into the box from my printer and was struggling to get out. In desperation I grabbed the packing tape and scissors and sealed the box. Then I jumped back in bed.

Mr.Mouse did not like being trapped in the box. Finally at around 3:30 I grabbed the box, ran with it over to the door, and shoved it out into the stairwell. I couldn't remember if I needed anything with the box. I had taped it shut without checking.

In the morning, I retrieved the box. The mouse was gone. I packed up my printer and got ready for the move. Later as we drove away, I couldn't help wondering if he had climbed into my boxes and joined us for the ride.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Assignments

This an assignment completed by a 12 yr old girl in one of my classes. She was later adopted.


First they had to fill in some text.


Then they had to add both drawings and text.


And finally both drawing and text without prompts. They were allowed to look at previous lessons, though.

Notice the tear blotch. Apparently making comic strips is a difficult assignment and I'm a mean teacher.

I wonder if God sometimes gives us assignments that aren't supposed to be difficult, but we cry over them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Small victories










Despite being shot at and choked at my final lesson today, there were triumphs.

-getting up on time and out the door
-commuting for only 2 hours and not 2 ½ one way ( is it wrong to be thankful that the bus driver used the break-down lane and thus helped me be on time?)
-dealing with less behavioral disruptions
-having a student be honest and return something she had stolen
-avoiding being attacked by a cat despite stepping on its tail
-not having a sore throat
-getting home before 9 pm

-maybe getting to sleep before 1am? ;)



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Intense

Yesterday I went to perhaps the most intense concert of my life. The featured instrument was none other than the famous Russian bayan (also known as the "button accordion," but that sounds too wimpy).

I was looking forward to a relaxing evening of music. The musician (bayanist? bayan player?) came out and gave the customary speech about the program and the history and style of each piece. I think that Russians like to give speeches. The first piece, a Bach prelude, seemed promising. The next one, Vivaldi's "Winter" (1st movement) suddenly picked up speed. A whole orchestra seemed to explode out of the one instrument! A lady sitting in the front row started moving her hands as though playing along. That wasn't anything unusual, although I would probably save that kind of display for the privacy of my home. Then she began to move not only her hands, but her arms, her head, her whole body! I couldn't look at her anymore as it was making me nervous!

And so it went on for another hour. The musician played increasingly complex pieces, staggering to his feet after each one for a round of applause. As an audience member I was at times stunned and unable to breathe, at other times inspired, and at still other times a little confused (like when he began to chant something as he played).

And so, I got my evening of music. Relaxing? In a way. It made me forget about everything else for a few hours.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Drinking tea

They all eat first and then drink tea. Vera told me they are taught that your stomach will rot if you eat and drink at the same time. I still can't eat without drinking anything, it gets all dry in my throat, so I had a cup of tea while I ate and another one while the other people did.

-from a very insightful article about Russian "tea culture" and how it plays a role in everyday life

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Retreat part 2

Here's a clip of the worship team warming up as church members gather for the next session.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Russian communication: No means Yes?

Russians don’t always say what they mean. I’m not trying to argue that Americans always say what they mean or that Russians never say what they mean. But there are incidents.

If you offer to help someone, he or she will often decline two or three times before accepting the offer. This also means that if someone offers you something, don’t be surprised if they keep asking you.

Hostess: “Do you want more?”
Me: (it was good, but I don’t want to be a pig) “No.”
Hostess: “Are you sure?”
Me: (that means I probably offended her by saying no. What should I do?) “Ummm….I’m fine.”
Third party: “Of course she wants more. Give her more.”

Here’s a line that works sometimes: “No thanks, but it was very good.” That way you don’t offend anybody. But you have to say it with confidence, or they will think you are just being shy.

Also, sometimes Russians say, “Thank you, but no,” which confuses me because I think the “thank you” is a sign that they’re accepting, and start acting accordingly, until I hear the “no.”

In retrospect, I have also probably caused problems in situations of the following type:

Me: “Can I wash the dishes?”
Hostess: “No, no, relax.”
Me: “Okay.”

Now I know that if I want to help, I should ask two or three times, and perhaps begin to do it, so that they can’t refuse.

Also, if you want to present someone with money or if you bring a gift when visiting someone, you have to kind of shove it into their hands before they can give it back to you, and you will hear: “You didn’t have to bring anything! Why did you go and waste your money on this? I made plenty to eat.” (even though everyone knows that you aren’t supposed to show up empty-handed)

A few more examples:

Cashier: “Don’t you have any smaller bills? I can’t change this!”
Me: “Ummm, ummm, let me look.” (frantic search for change)
Cashier: “Fine, forget about it.” (pulls out change. Why did she make me tear apart my purse and make everyone wait if she had the change all along?)

Me: “Do you have any empty boxes I can have?”
Store employee: “We don’t usually offer that kind of service. (Yet starts walking towards the boxes) Shall I dissemble them for you?”
Me: (thinking yes, but trying not to be demanding) “Ummm, I can just carry them like that.”
Store employee: (taking apart the boxes even though I said he didn’t have to) “You won’t be able to carry them all folded up.”

I think I’ve confused myself.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Church retreat

Last weekend I attended a church retreat for an extended time of fellowship. We spent the night in a Finnish seminary center outside of the city. It was fun to have the whole church together.

On Friday night everyone started arriving as they got off work. We ate a light supper and then had a time of worship and two lessons on our theme of the weekend, which was Dedication.







On Saturday we had more times of worship and study, and during the breaks there were opportunities for discussion and encouragement.




We also heard a testimony from two ladies (one a missionary from Norway, pictured below) who are serving in Medvezhegorsk.



We went home tired, but in good spirits and with new things to consider.





You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Lev.20:26








Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Entertainment

While I'm preparing a longer post, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. I think this falls under the category of "behaving like a 2 yr old" or "why it's midnight already and I haven't gotten anything done."



Monday, October 15, 2007

How to keep an 11-yr-old happy

Seva is a boy I tutor in English, and he often has behavioral problems. We have a lot of "power struggles" where he tries to be in control of the lesson. "Let's leave the tv on," "Give me 5 stickers," "Let's play the new game I made up," etc. Today he had a new textbook, so there was incentive to study. We read through an alphabet poem.

Then we got to R. "R is for robot."

"Read in a robot voice," Seva commanded. For some reason I complied. He liked it so much that we read through the poem a few times (taking turns).

So it seems that all this time, all I had to do was speak in a robot voice. I should try it with my other students and see what happens.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Married!





Sorry, this post has nothing to do with my marital status. I just wanted to comment on an observation I made recently in the metro.

I was riding home at the end of the day, and a young couple got on. I thought “oh, great, now I’ll be subjected to another sickening public display of affection.” Then I caught a glimpse of the girl’s hand and saw a ring. She’s married! I looked at the guy’s hand. He’s married too! They’re married to each other! It was a pleasant discovery.

In Russia I notice a lot of couples engaged in what I consider inappropriate displays of affection, but I don’t think there’s anything cultural about it; I think rather it is related to the fact that I ride the public transportation a lot. Riding the escalator in the metro an average of 4 times a day, I get an eyeful of that kind of behavior. And I think to myself, “How can he be treating her that way? She doesn’t belong to him; she’s not his wife.” Of course I am making assumptions that the couple is not married, but many of them seem too young. I also think sometimes it is obvious when there is a serious commitment and when there is simply…lust. But I won’t go into detail.

So whenever I catch a glimpse of wedding rings, I take it as a sign of hope. Maybe the vows were said in haste; maybe it won’t last…but they’re one step closer to a serious commitment. There’s a legal commitment. Their children will be born in wedlock. They’ve made a covenant before each other and before others. There’s something to fight for. I find that encouraging.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tired

You know it's going to be a long day when...you start getting dressed and reach for your pajamas instead of your regular clothes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Birthday wishes



Happy Birthday to my grandmother! She just turned 80 years old! I'm very thankful that we saw each other recently and were able to spend time together.




Monday, October 8, 2007

Queuing revisited

Before I posted "Queuing," I had the feeling that I should edit it more. Usually I try not to write negative commentaries on Russian culture. I think it's interesting to point out differences, or explain why something seems strange to me, but I try not to be judgmental.

My article on Russian queues ended up being more negative than I planned. Therefore, I apologize for making unfair generalizations and being judgmental.

Perhaps I'll do what I was too lazy to do before and mention some events of Russian history. I should call attention to the food shortages that changed the philosophy of queuing. Standing in line all day was the only way to survive. The length of time spent in line was long enough that there had to be special rules. The rules developed during that time period remained, although the conditions changed.

In America we don't usually have to stand in line quite that long. However, there are always exceptions. For example, someone mentioned that Americans “camp out” overnight sometimes to get things that are in high demand: movie tickets, an appearance on “American Idol,” free giveaways, etc. However, I do not think this is comparable to receiving basic food staples.

It was interesting to note a few common characteristics in the basic attitude towards standing in line.

1) "It’s my right." As human beings, we often have strong ideas about what we're entitled to!

In my first version, I noted that it was my "right" to keep my place in line, since I had been standing there the whole time and hadn’t moved.

One reader, however, commented, that it’s your “right” to be able to go away and come back, and your place will still be waiting for you.

2) Showing mercy. On the other hand, there are times when we're motivated to be compassionate, regardless of whatever cultural norms may exist.

Both Russians and Americans noted that there were times when they would let someone go ahead of them or let them break the “rules.”

3) It starts in childhood.

Recently, I was last in line and a man approached with an infant. He left the little boy in the stroller behind me and went off to finish shopping (actually, he was getting beer, but that's beside the point). I don't know how ingrained the Russian queuing rules are, but that little boy is learning at least how his parents do it and how other people respond.

As for me, I clearly remember how we dealt with lining up and saving seats in kindergarten. If you got out of line, you lost your place. (You snooze, you lose) If we were going into a row of seats, or onto a bus, we had to fill up every seat in order. We were taught that it was more polite that way. And in adulthood, these are the rules we live by.

If I ever move to another country, will I have to learn the rules again?

I'm very glad we have the Bible to live by.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Girlfriends

Can you spot the American?


Here I am with some of my friends earlier this year when we visited a Gospel concert.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Development

The metro stop where I live has changed a lot in the past few years.

In the foreground you can see the remains of the small kiosks and shops that lined the street. In the background, what used to be a wooded area is being developed into modern shopping centers.

Neighborhoods all over the city are undergoing a similar process.



This made me think

"We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him."

-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, reading for Oct.3rd

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.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Disobedient children and confusing Russian men

It was a strange day.

When I arrived at the orphanage, the girls came running down the hallway energetically like little puppies. “I’m Galya!” “I’m Katya!” they giggled.

Immediately there was a fight over who would sit where. I had designed a very simple board game. Roll the die, move a few spaces, and identify a word in English by drawing a card. Within a few minutes, the three other kids were making fun of Galya. They threw her playing piece on the floor. Then they couldn’t find it, so I gave her mine. Finally Galya ran from the room sobbing, as the other kids yelled “you’re psycho!”

I couldn’t help but feel sad. Kids are often mean to each other, but usually those offended can run to mommy, and Galya has no mommy to run to.

I couldn’t find Galya to calm her down, so I reluctantly returned to the remaining students. Misha had an outburst about every two minutes, when it was not his turn. He shouted and slammed his hand on the table, sending things flying.

At the end, I gave them each a vocabulary check-up and rewarded them with one sticker each. I let them choose the stickers themselves, handing over the sheet of stickers as I test the next person. It’s a simple test of their ability to be honest and follow directions. Katya took 2 or 3 stickers. I ripped off the extra ones that she had taken and crumpled them up. She hadn’t passed the test.

I was frustrated and late for the next lesson. I tried to gather my things, but as usual the kids had stolen them. I had carefully hidden my afternoon snack (substitute for lunch), wrapping it in a separate bag to keep it from the kids. Misha found it anyway and announced that I had food that I was hiding. They danced around, refusing to give me my things until I gave them sweets. Suddenly the counselor from the next group walked in. “We are waiting for you,” she said. Katya was wearing my clothing, Lolita had my purse, and Misha had opened my umbrella and was prancing around the room with it. They relinquished my belongings at last and I took off in a hurry.

I got to the next group. They too were running around and jumping on and off the furniture. A few kids were wrestling on the couch. The kids who were supposed to come to English class came in and I tried to turn the light on. They told me that it didn’t work. We lit a lamp and gathered around a little table, reviewing the words from the previous lesson. They remembered everything well, but kids were coming and going constantly and there was shouting.

I began to reminisce about what these children had been like a few years ago, when we knew them at camp. Certain characteristics that had seemed almost humorous when they were little now seemed to be causing problems in adolescence. Katya had been sweet and subdued. Now she seemed almost listless and completely lacking confidence. She gave up halfway through every activity, saying that she didn’t want to participate. Misha was also calm yet distracted, wandering around in his jacket and inspecting things in the room; turning on the tv at one point. Roma, with his curly head of hair, had a long history of behavior problems. As a little child, he would run up and embrace people almost violently. Now he was less physical, but shouted inappropriate phrases incessantly. I used to worry about him since he was the only African-Russian child in the orphanage, but their little group seems tight-knit, since they only have each other. The kids had learned American swears somewhere, and shouted them constantly, but Roma especially. He smiled slyly as he swore and displayed his middle finger.

We tried the board game again with this group. Despite the shouting they remembered words faster and there weren’t as many tears. But the board game didn’t work here either. At ten and eleven years old, they could not seem to wait their turn or be honest about the number of spaces they should go. They constantly squirmed and flailed their arms, knocking the pieces all over. When another was answering a question, they shouted out of turn. The game had lost its point. I turned to take out the next activity and found my materials missing. I must have left them in the first group in my haste. I quickly improvised and invented another activity. Then finally it was time to go. I gave stickers to a few, who took them calmly and not greedily. They continued to ask me about certain English words as I left. There was a desire to learn, at least.

I headed outside. The bus was not there yet and I was glad, because I could finally eat a few crackers.

A man approached me, also waiting for the bus. He asked me about the buses and I observed that there was one approaching, maybe the one that we were waiting for.

“Bon appetit,” he said, in reference to my snack.

“Thank you.”

“No time to eat?”

“I was with the kids.”

“You’re hardly more than a kid yourself!” I didn’t take offense at this comment, he being elderly.

The man continued to talk and ask questions. I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to answer a stranger appropriately, and I knew that I would probably misunderstand at some point and then we would have to discuss my being a foreigner. As we got on the bus, I realized that it was a long way to the city, with virtually no stops. Forty minutes stuck in conversation with a strange man! What to do? Stop talking for the sake of decency or remain talking in hopes of witnessing about Christ? I’m sure that I don’t understand Russian men and their intentions, and try to avoid such circumstances, but here I was stuck on a bus with nowhere to escape to. Although I wasn’t extremely bothered, I wondered about the man’s motives. Was he:

1) Drunk?
2) Lonely?
3) Selling something?
4) A spy?
5) Just looking for a conversation partner?

Part of why the conversation seemed strange is that he asked questions that I would hardly dare to ask my closest friends in the States, let alone a stranger in Russia. “What did you study?” “Where do you live (apartment or room)?” “Where is your family?” “Do they visit?” “What do you do for fun?” “What kind of transportation pass do you buy?” “Do they feed you in the orphanage?”

When it came out that I was a foreigner, he said something about “it being obvious.” And I said “What?” "Don't you know what I'm talking about?" he asked. "No." “Are you a believer?” “Yes.” For a moment I thought that he was a Christian too, but the questions that followed showed that he knew little about Christianity.

“Do you believe in ______ of the soul?” Not understanding fully, I said yes. But he went on to talk about souls being passed on to animals and trees and from person to person. And I had to withdraw my agreement.

“Actually, my faith is a different kind.”
“Aren’t you a Christian?
“Yes.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, but not in the kind of ‘spiritual’ activity that you are talking about.”
Later, he asked me how I dealt with difficulties in life.
“The Lord helps me.”
“But He can’t always help.”
“Of course He can.”

After the bus ride, I got on the metro, and the man followed me. He took out a catalog of Chinese health products. That was it, he must be selling something. But he did not make an offer. I was a little nervous because he had asked what station I was going to, and I couldn’t very well run away. But after a few stops he got off, and was gone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Close Call

Today I was at the office, and the woman that does registration for foreigners asked me on what date I had entered Russia most recently. I went to get my migration card, the stamped document that you fill out when you go through passport control. It wasn't in my passport where it should have been.


I couldn't think where I could have put it! I always keep it in my passport, or at least in my purse. If I tried to keep it somewhere else, I would forget where I decided to keep it. I couldn't remember taking it out, so all I could think of was that it had fallen out accidentally.


When I got home, I had a free hour for cleaning my room, but instead used it to tear apart my room looking for the migration card. I tried all the little piles of paper with no results. Finally I tried the trashcan, and there it was. God is good!


P.S. After I took this photo, I almost forgot to take the migration card out again and put it in a safe place. :) When will I be organized???

Monday, October 1, 2007

Forgetting English

Difficult...to speak...in native language.....

Me(or I): "Sveta has a girl."

Mom: "What does 'has a girl' mean?"

Me: "I don't know how else to say that Sveta has a girl. Knows a girl (but that doesn't imply any relationship to the situation)? Has a friend (But that would require further information to clarify that the friend is female and not male)?

Mom: "Ah. Your English is getting rusty perhaps."

Me: "Perhaps."

Children

It turns out that I've gotten used to teaching older kids and adults. I seem to be clueless about what to do with 3 and 4-yr-olds.

Due to the growing number of children and the presence of toddlers at Sunday school, we decided to take the youngest kids and teach them separately.

So we read a little bit of the Creation story and then asked a few questions.

"Who created the sun?" we asked.

"I did!" shouted the 3-yr-old.

Hmmm. We read the story again.

"Who created the sun?"

"I did!"

"No, God did."

"God did!"

I had planned a lot more activities for the lesson, but it looked like we needed to take it slowly.

We managed to get through 3 verses of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," as well as a very intense coloring session. I didn't realize that coloring could be laborious.

Maybe next time we'll try puppets. :)