Thursday, April 16, 2009


I have had a very difficult time with the kids in one of the orphanages lately. They behave quite badly. When I speak to them in English, they answer in Russian. If I offer them something, they always want a different color or flavor.

This time, I managed to have a good lesson with one girl individually. Then another two came in and it was difficult to keep all of them busy since they had missed the presentation of new vocabulary. I let them try the worksheet, but they copied the other girl's. They kept saying "da" instead of repeating the words. I was tired by the end.

I went out to the bus stop, and one of my former students was there. He was in an older group of boys who are now graduating from high school and moving on to college. He groaned when I told him which group I was working with. I remembered his group being better. They were probably my best group, despite all their practical jokes. I think they learned the most because we had our lessons in an actual classroom. In the playroom it's hopeless.

Dima told me I was wasting my time and should go somewhere where I was more appreciated. I could hear a bit of remorse in his voice, as he seemed to know his group had given me a hard time in the past.

I got off the bus at the train station and opened my purse to see how much money I had, because I had to go to the store as well. But my money was gone.

The exact same thing had happened the previous week, although that time, he/she had been gracious enough to leave me a few hundred rubles for the long trip home. But I was sure that I had dropped it somewhere. It didn't seem possible that I had been robbed, because no one has ever tried to go into my purse. I always notice if anyone gets close to me, and I never let my purse out of my sight.

Except, of course, when I'm teaching a lesson. The kids always go into my bags and spoil whatever surprises I have brought. I suppose it would take away the temptation if I simply emptied out all my bags upon arrival, but the whole presentation of the lesson is more interesting when props are brought out gradually.

Anyway, I was standing at the train station with no money except pocket change. I started counting it out to see if I had enough. Meanwhile, the train came and went, although there would be another one in ten minutes. I didn't have enough money to get back into the city. I looked around for an ATM, but it was a fairly run-down part of town. I was already too far from the orphanage to go back and try to get my money back. Then I realized that I had enough money for the bus.

I stopped taking the bus awhile ago after several 2-3 hour traffic jams and migraine headaches. At this point, I didn't care about traffic. I just wanted to get back to the city. The bus was mercifully uncrowded, but it cost more than I thought. I had just enough to cover the fare.

I got back to the city pretty quickly, and was able to withdraw some money from the bank. Everything was fine after that.

I suppose the children's thievery doesn't surprise me. But what dismays me is their lack of conscience. After the money went missing last week, I half-expected a tearful child to approach me and confess. But I wasn't really even sure that it had been stolen. After all their whining and manipulating during the lesson yesterday, it was a spiteful end. I remembered Galina grinning impishly when I caught her cheating. Then she stuck an extra sticker onto her progress chart in order to get a prize, which I denied her.

They lie, cheat, and steal. You can blame their dismal fate, but they still have the freedom of choice, and it's not as though they live completely apart from adult supervision. I cannot imagine doing something like that as a child and getting away with it. My conscience would keep me from sleeping or even eating. I remember a few kids thinking it was cool to steal something from a store. Maybe that's what's going on here, a rite of passage. But it leaves me very disappointed.

I can't continue trying to have lessons if I have to constantly be looking out for my possessions. I'm not a policeman. I could lock my things in the counselor's office, but that's beside the point. The children lack a basic idea of respect, and apparently I'm not inspiring them much. Maybe Dima was right about it being a waste.

I guess I am still mad. I'm sure I will be calm by the next time I see them. I always calm down, but I lose motivation. I love the children, but apparently I haven't chosen the correct method of expression.


  1. I remember when I worked at a group home and was taking some kids out during my off hours. One of the boys took money out of my purse while I was driving the car. It was a big disapointment to me and from then on I was vigilant about my purse and valuables. Sorry you had this experience.

  2. Sorry to hear this happened. Maybe the best place for money at Detsky Dom is in your pocket...glad you were able to make it home! As I was reading I was worried about you walking such a long distance!

  3. Some of those kids (both guys and girls) have seen drugs, sex, alcohol, fights since they were infants.

    That's why they are orphans and are all screwed up.

    No need to be upset.

    Go on YouTube and type something like "russian kids on drugs".

    Anyway, sorry to hear about you plight.

  4. I post things and then I am embarrassed at all the mistakes I make. Bear with me, English is my sec. lang.

    Anywho. Remember I told you about my friends in Thailand? Here's their recent post:

    I think I am ready to say: "Screw you all missionaries, friends or not. It's just not right what you are there for..."

    But what do I know?

  5. Jill, unfortunately, my pockets aren't safe either! But I'll have to think of something.

    Vitali, it's not the first time I've seen it. It's happened in my own family. No, their behavior is nothing new, but I disagree that there's no reason to be upset. It's something bigger than being inconvenienced. It's heart-breaking. Of course I'm not going to act shocked every time, but there's also no reason to become desensitized and act like everything is normal. Living in an orphanage and being exposed to all the things you mentioned while still in infancy/childhood is not normal. Why pretend?

    I looked at the missionary blog and it's hard to comment without knowing their background. I don't know what they are "there for," or whether or not they're keeping to their goals. If they're your friends, maybe you could talk to them about it?

  6. Its amazing that you stick to your mission inspite of all these snags!


  7. God is faithful. Thanks for the encouragement!


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