Day camp here starts today! We've been inviting the neighborhood children. Last night we all went out and cleaned up the outdoor ice skating rink where we'll be meeting. For the next five days we'll be having crafts, games, Bible stories and music for the children there. Please pray for a good turn out, for no problems with the authorities, for good weather, and for all to go well.
For Anna, camp time is just ending. Here's what she wrote yesterday:
Ahhhh, all of the camps are over and I'm back in the land of showers and toilets(my brother's apartment). I have a suitcase full of dirty clothes and am in the midst of remedying that situation. After attending church in both Vyazniki and Kovrov(2 hr. long services each), I was dropped off here, and am enjoying the different pace. As usual, I can't say for certain exactly what's happening next, but I think that I'm going to take the train on Wednesday to Perm to visit my friends, Jon and Carrie. They're a young couple from my church in Charlotte who work in Perm with the mission group, Youth With A Mission. There is actually one more camp here in Kovrov this coming week, but I can't take part. After trying repeatedly to obtain permission from the officials here to have camp, they finally agreed, but with one exception- no Americans can work in the camps. (Note from Phyllis: We don't count; we're "Russian-Americans." ) Please be thinking and praying for the workers this coming week, as it is a very good possibility that they will have police officials visiting them to observe the camp.
I've been to four different camps since I last wrote, so I'll do my best to fill you in without boring you. I know many of you are wondering how the tent camp went. The following are excerpts from my journal:
6/26-9:15am.......So, we're out at the tent camp in Sudugdo. All of the mosquitoes in the entire forest from miles around came to greet us last night upon our arrival. It was a big party- for them. I seriously don't think I've ever seen that many mosquitoes in my entire life. Everywhere we went, a huge crowd, er..........cloud, followed. All is quiet everywhere- with the exception of the travelling, blood sucking party goers, who are singing, humming and buzzing with enthusiasm amidst all of us. I'll probably be down a pint of blood by the time I make it out of here.
6/27- Well, I've survived one day. I've been sitting here for five minutes and can't write, for swatting mosquitoes. I swear, I'm going to freak out. And during the day, there are big horseflies, constantly trying to bite you. Yesterday wasn't a bad day, but it feels like I'm being eaten alive. I'm soooooo itchy.
6/28- 2 days down- the 1st half of yesterday was rough. I was an emotional mess- very teary. I finally went on a walk before lunch and got my crying done with. Yesterday was a hot day and today looks like more of the same. I started getting sun poison on my arms and neck, and now it's spreading more and more and really stings. With the sun coming up around 4am and not going completely dark until around 11:30pm, there are too many daylight hours for my poor, delicate skin. I just can't get away from the sun, and as soon as I put sunscreen on, I sweat it off.
6/29- Yesterday was a good day- the first that I really enjoyed and felt hope that I could survive the rest of the week. And right as I began to adjust, Ivan shows up to take me and Abby to register our visas at the motel in Vyazniki. So, of course, instead of toughing it out, I instantly ask if we could stay there instead of coming back. Opportunity knocked- I jumped on it, and now I feel like a quitter. A happy quitter, but a quitter, nonetheless.
Vyazniki- we arrived in time for the final two days of camp in Vyazniki- didn't do much there.
Karabanova- I didn't want to go, but thankfully Ivan made me. I had a great time there, and it was a real blessing for me. I ended up doing crafts by myself, because the woman who was in charge of crafts wasn't feeling well. So, I taught three classes of about 17 kids each, in my broken Russian. They all understood, which was quite an encouragement for me. I got my most practice in Russian during our fours days there. There was no interpretor with us, and the Russians and Ukrainians with us didn't speak English. It was so good for me to have to talk. I know that I made many mistakes, but we communicated rather well, and I was interpreting for the lady from MN who was with us. I know I've made a lot of grammatical mistakes, but here's one really amusing thing that I said: a boy asked me about the hair on my viola bow and instead of telling him it comes from a (loshad), I told him it comes from a loshka. Translation: instead of saying "The hair is from a horse," I said "The hair is from a spoon." He looked at me, nodded his head, and walked away. Right about that time, I realized what I had said, started laughing, and ran after him.
Melenki- My final week of camp was spent in a small church in a poor town. Outhouse, no showers, no ability to bathe. We had a sink, but it was rather limited. It had an output pipe to give water, but no intake pipe to receive water. Therefore, the water fell straight out of the drain into a bucket on the floor. People were constantly carrying it out to be emptied. The team all slept in one room(the only option)- the three females on cots and the guys on rows of wood chairs. One of the guys found an old door and brought it in to expand his sleeping quarters. We did everything in that one room, though, so every morning and every evening, we put it all away and then took it all out again. As much as I complain about having to constantly register my visa at motels, I was rather excited at the prospect of a shower midweek. I took one upon arriving that evening, and another in the morning. I figured if I had to pay $32 for a tiny, cold room and an unedible breakfast, I'd try to get my money's worth in showers. I had to sleep under the mattress, I was so cold. I know that sounds funny, but the mattresses are only three inches thick, so it worked rather well.
Yesterday, we had our end of camp celebration. Ivan made his wonderful shashliki (shishkebobs), plus other standard Ukrainian fare. At this point the entire team is Ukrainian, with the exception of me. After our celebratory lunch and discussing high and low points of all the camps, we drove out to the old camp to see it and to pick zemlyaniki (small wild strawberries.) They look like the ones that grow in our yards in NC, but they taste great. I wouldn't recommend the ones in your yards- they're not so tasty- I speak from experience. Then Ivan drove us to an amazing overlook that I've never seen before. We got some great final group pictures. It was so beautiful- didn't look like it belonged in the dirty city of Vyazniki. It was uplifting to see.
OK. I think that's everything. I'd love to hear from people now that I have access to the internet. Please write to this address- firstname.lastname@example.org, and not to my yahoo address. Thanks! Anna