This morning started off like like the others as we moved into servant-leader training session at 8:15 this morning. We drank our coffee and discussed Philippians 2:1-2 and what it looks like to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus regarding humility in thought and deed. We prayed together and departed for camp. We also received one-on-one followup assignments with the folks that made decisions to follow Christ. Bill and I were tag teamed with reaching out to Ruslan, the 20 year old guest who was recommended for camp. I am still not sure how he ended up coming here, but I know that I get to have some one on one time with him, intentionally - so I will probably ask what brings him here and how it is that he found himself with us. The remainder of the day went much like yesterday's in terms of schedule and activity details.
I have found that I am requested to play some part in every day’s skit performances, and will likely do so all week long. I have been playing the role of Jesus each day, playing a simple acting part as different elements of the gospel are demonstrated - reinforcing the teaching time. I have not been required to say anything, nor really to pay attention to the Russian script. Everything is acted out silently. Coming Thursday though, I will need to listen and understand a few things to take cue on when to address the disciples vs the pharisees, vs the paralyzed man that I “instruct” to pick up his mat and walk! It is very hard to listen for these lines in the middle of so much other storytelling. I suggested that maybe the girl in the front portion of the stage, facing me, could tap the floor with her finger discretely when its time for me to transition from one focus to the next. They all thought this was a good idea! I think they realize that I will never hear the cue lines in time to react...oh well. I helped later contribute to the puppet show script, providing examples that the puppet show characters could talk through. It is great to hang around with the acting team and rehearse for the upcoming scenes. The main director speaks very good English and is a big help of course to me. I think that the entire team and I are getting more and more comfortable with one another as we laugh and joke and cut up together as we work through the rehearsals. It is a good time and is another means of connecting with these older teens. They have begun asking me my ideas and getting input on how to demonstrate some of the concepts being discussed through the puppet show.
My heart has really gone out to Aleshia (14) and Nastia (11). These two girls are just so sweet and affectionate. Alesha comes and finds me on the beach and wants to play football or swim in the sea with me or is generally just hanging out with me as we both stumble over our words in communication effort. She is a real sweetheart and so eager to give and receive affection - but it doesn't seem like in an unhealthy RAD sort of way...still somewhat reserved and shy, but just a sweet spirit. She knows much more English than what she originally let on, and is speaking to me more and more, rather than just giggling and shyly looking away. Nastia has proven to be and amazing child also. She is easy going and gets along well with everyone. During the last three worship sessions she has come from her seat to find me and wrap her arm around my waist as we sing worship songs in Russian together. There are others too, but these so far have shown a measure of kindness and affection, and allowed me to do the same for them in such a sweet way. Both are orphans - I don't know their status of course, but they are growing up quickly in this system, and I can only hope and pray that God protects and teaches them both to walk with him, I pray he provides a means of escape for them from the statistical probabilities we are familiar with.
Tonight I redeemed my memory verse embarrassment by saying the previous days verse and the current verse during the evening review time...whew - glad I didn't botch that up again! It was well received and the kids are very gracious and encouraging. Greg also includes a time to interview a different person (so far the Americans) each night in a “talk show” format as the venue for asking about who we are and how we came to know the Lord as our own Savior. In this way we are sharing our testimonies of faith while keeping their interest. Bill and Sabrina have gone the first few nights, I think that tomorrow or Thursday is my turn. It should be interesting...there is so much I want to say, but just not enough time! I will have to pick my words carefully - I want them to have an impact that solidifies the truth of the gospel and the reality of God.
If you have a moment, pray now with me for these precious children...for Ruslan, Aleshia, Nastia, and the others who are hearing the word of God - some for the first time ever. Tonight they watched the Jesus film in Russian after the evening session. The truth is being poured into these kids hearts is so many ways: teaching, drama, puppets, film, and demonstrations of love and acceptance, kindness and joy.
In addition to a similar set of activities around camp focus on the next daily theme, tomorrow we head to an orphanage (maybe for the first time for the entire ministry) to conduct outreach lessons and in general play and spend time with the children.
Iyora - smart little man who knows just enough english to be able to have a good lunch conversation. Great kid. He was embarrassed of his hair - but we have been busy - who has time to worry about their hair!
Susha - but I learned it K-Shusa..say the K quickly. She came to the states before camp with the fundraising. She is a sweetheart and is very excited to be hear with the children, and learning more herself.
Ionia - this little guys is in my small groop and has engaged the word heartily. He is very interested and thoughtful in his responses and it seems like the word is taking deep roots in his heart.
Alesia - Sweet girl from an orphanage here in Crimea. It took her a day to warm up, but since then she comes running to my side for every worship song and we stand arm in arm while we sing. She is always lookign out for me - when the bus leaves (several now) but she is intent on making sure I am on board. So sweet.
This is Nastia - a servant leader full of energy and a great influence on the children. This is her and another set of leaders making plans for the afternoon activities over lunch. She loves all the red heads in our family and cannot wait to meet each one of you. She feels a connections - since her hair is also "ginger"
Nastia also. She is an orphan and is another child who saves a seat for me beside her on the bus, and is almost always by my side during worship - locked in on the other side. She is a real sweet heart and very well adjusted it seems. She would come home in an empty suitcase if I could but rescue one. All of them if I could bring more!