Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tsyurupinsk camp review

Camp team and orphanage director
The week at Tsyurupinsk, the orphanage I usually visit, went really well. Our family and our friend who came from America to help stayed at the hotel there the whole week. It was really convenient to be so close, even though we discovered that Tsyurupinsk is the city that never sleeps. Or at least it seems like that by the one hotel there. The rest of the camp team commuted. Natasha and I were the coordinators for the whole week, but she got sick and was only able to be there the first and last days. (Pray for her, please, she's still in the hospital.)

Each morning we would start in the orphanage auditorium with songs and games and a warm up time. Then we did a Bible story, outside games, and crafts. After that, the team left for lunch and quiet time. When the orphanage quiet time was over, we came back with more crafts, activities, fellowship, and even English classes. On the last day Joe grilled hot dogs for everyone, and we had a picnic feast.

Again, we didn't even take our camera, but here are photos from others:
Yesterday my orphanage visit was a camp review. We sang the songs again, looked through all these pictures, and talked about what fun we had and what we learned at our camp. For a lot of the kids this camp was absolutely the highlight of their summer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Three camps done!

Of course, I would have liked to update last weekend after Camp Two and then now with Camp Three. And I will get to that. But it all just went too fast!

So, now we're back to regular life, and what does that look like? Raia finally gets to celebrate her thirteenth birthday as she wanted to. She had been asking for a good bike for all her school commuting, and that dream came true yesterday:


Then, tonight her friends are coming over for a sleepover and cookout. Fun!

By the way, we did celebrate on her actual day, too, by going to a fancy restaurant in Tsyurupinsk. Desirae posted about that here (and more), and this is one of her pictures from that night:



Other than birthday stuff, Will's at the office, and at home we're having a great time catching up with our neighbours. All the children really missed each other. And we're picking and processing the huge crop of apricots that is ripening. And we're missing Jaan; part of the busyness last weekend was seeing him off to camp. We know he's alive out there in the woods, because the camp posts photos sometimes, but we don't have any contact with him there. He'll be back on Saturday. Our little neighbour thinks we have to suffer for ten whole years without Jaan, but it's really a little more than ten days. We should survive that.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Camp in Stepanovka

Camp team and some of the kids

The first week of camp is already over. It was wonderful, and it was also really hard. The kids were amazing. We all enjoyed getting to know them. They really touched our hearts, and also broke our hearts for the hard situations they're in. Because this is a shelter they're in and out a lot, and their trauma is very fresh and ongoing. The orphanage system is bad, but most of the kids we have known in it before this have some kind of stability and a place of their own in it. These kids don't even have that.

We didn't take our camera out even once, but our friends got a lot of good photos. You should be able to see most of them, even without a Facebook account. Here are some links:

Thank you so much for your prayers! I know that is what has kept us going. Next week will be camp in Tsyurupinsk. That might be a little easier emotionally, but it's still going to be a challenge in other ways. I'm one of the two coordinators for that camp, and we'll be staying in Tsyurupinsk the whole time. Please keep praying for us.

Monday, June 04, 2018

First day of camp




Today is the first day of camp at the Stepanovka children's shelter. And I'm home with our own sick little boy. 

This is one of those days when I'm so thankful for my family. I had a cute little English lesson planned for the 3-7 age group and was all ready to go last night. Then Bogdan's cough came back with a vengeance and kept us up in the night. (He seemed so much better, but then I let him play in the river last night, and he got too cold.) In the night I was thinking that I could have Raia stay home with him. Jaan is translating for our American guest in her group, and Will is with the teen boys, so Raia was the only one left. But she really wanted to go, and she was perfectly comfortable taking over teaching and helping with the little ones I was supposed to be with today. 

So far, I've seen a few photos that our friend posted, including these of the youngest group (with Raia in one picture). I know they're also dealing with this thunderstorm I see out the window. That could be a challenge, because the shelter is doing major renovations, so the camp team was supposed to be keeping the kids away from that and happy outside.

Please be praying for camp and for Bogdan to be feeling better as soon as possible!

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Yesterday: picnic, robots, camp planning

Yesterday was a really full day. Jaan went to a robot contest in Dnepropetrovsk. He left at 2 a.m. and got back around midnight, so he's still asleep now. I took these from his teacher's posts on Facebook:



Then our younger three went on a picnic with the church children's choir. Their choir director sent out these photos:




At first I just sat around and marvelled at the empty house... and tried to console the neighbour children who were still here, of course. Then Will and I went off to a good, long meeting to plan the upcoming week of camp.

Funny moment: at the end of our meeting we had planned to check in with our kids to find out where they were and if we should wait for them at church. I finally got Asya on the phone and asked where she was. Her answer, "In a bush." Apparently she was changing out of her bathing suit right then. So I was able to guess that, yes, they were still out on their picnic.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Camp month

In case you don't get our monthly letters, or if get them and missed this, here are our camp plans for June:
Week 1: Stepanovka; week 2: Tsyurupinsk; week 3+: Poltava/art/office.Thank you for praying!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Our picnic

Yesterday's concert was amazing. It's hard to believe that Jaan has really graduated from music school!

And our internet is fixed. Nice.


Today we have photos from May 9. Remember last year's Victory Day picnic? This year we were so excited to go again. Then, at the last minute it was called off because of an early-morning thunderstorm. The message from the church said that they had to cancel renting the buses, but anyone who had their own transportation and wasn't afraid of the weather could still go. We don't have our own transportation, but we're not afraid. Plus, we had all our food prepared and some very disappointed children. So, once the storm rolled past, we set out.

The very first thing we found when we got to the forest was a beautiful, bright green lizard.



While we were observing the lizard and resting, Will noticed that a dead tree seemed to be making noise. Something was scratching around inside it and squeaking and chittering. He called the kids close to watch and take pictures. When he pulled the bark back bunches of bats flew out at us!


Most of them flew away right off, but two didn't. We were afraid they were hurt, but no, they were just very sleepy. And maybe they were babies? After a while they did wake up and take off.




Then we walked on to the same picnic spot as last year. Some were hoping that others from church would be there, but no one else showed up. At least, not at that place. We had a wonderful day with just our family, though.




Do you see Jaan?
When it was time to go home, we headed out to the highway. I was hoping there would still be marshrutki running, and I think Will was trying to figure out how to get a taxi to find us. Raia and Asya sang all the songs they know at the top of their voices while climbing on the bus stop shelter.


After we had waited a while, a friend's van flew by. I recognised it, but Valentine wasn't behind the wheel, so I wasn't sure. He was resting in the passenger's seat, though, while his friend drove back from their dacha, and he saw us. They turned around, came back, and gave us a ride to the city. That was a very nice end to a very nice day!