Addicted to Ink

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

haunting moments

This is the scene that keeps replaying in my mind today.

I'm standing by the bus, snapping photos of students with orphans at Losovoe, the majority favorite. It's our last trip to this orphanage, and the students are sad... clinging to these last precious moments with our beautiful kids.

The older girls I've been hanging out with have disappeared back into their lives of television and fingernail painting and gossiping about boys - in Russian. Privyet, spaceba, dasvadanya, schtoetah, cakvasavoot are about as far as I can get without a translator, and teenage girls can only stand the awkwardness for so long.

So I'm just kind of standing there, knowing we've only got about 10 minutes left. Should I begin calling the students to the bus now, knowing that it will take at least 20 minutes for every good-bye to be said? Or should I let them have these moments uninterupted, even if we will be a little late for the next thing?

My eyes wander to the grassy hill, where a little boy is drawing intently. I quickly bring my camera to my eyes, wondering if I can capture this scene before he looks up. But just as I'm snapping the photo, his eyes meet mine.

He shyly waves me over, and when I reach the step below him, he puts a few finishing touches on his photo, signs it, and presents it to me, a gift.

"Spaceba bolchoy," I tell him. "Hadaschal." He smiles. I take his picture with his drawing. So that I can remember and so that I can put a face with this sweet little boy who drew me a picture and perhaps so that I can tell you this story.

Just then, his friend meets us on the steps. They put their arms around each other, and bring their thumbs and forefinger to their eyes, making clicking sounds and smiling.

I chuckle at their perfect nonverbal skills. "Ahdeem, devol, trr-ree," I count.

They tug at my sleeves and motion me to follow them to the top of the hill - a dainty, landscaped perch with a circular garden of purple wildflowers. The artist pushes his friend out of the way, taps his chest, and makes the clicking motion again.

I oblige.

Then the boy with the hood pushes his friend out of the way.

We have two joiners, the second boy's sisters, who ham it up for the camera.

The others are taking up too much of my attention, and the first boy has had enough. He goes to the edge of the perch, and begins drawing me another picture - this time of Spiderman. Looking up from his drawing for a second, he motions for me to take another picture.

He finishes quickly, and hands me his masterpiece, complete with webs spinning from Spiderman's fingers. He's written "Spiderman" in Russian, but half of the letters are the same letters of the English alphabet.

I look at my watch. Giving him - and the other three - a big hug, I say, "Dasvadanya." We are now officially late. I grab the boys' hands and the four of them follow me to the bus, and I'm wishing I had more gifts than the ones we've already distributed - personal ones. As I sound out the "time-to-say-goodbye-call," my four new friends chatter away in Russian as I smile and nod and pray blessings on them, and wish I knew exactly what they are saying. I'm wishing I knew their names, and their ages, and their histories, and their futures.

According to statistics as they are now, three of the four of these kids won't make it outside the orphanage for longer than five years when they are turned out at age 15 or 16.

Even if that's only half true - that's still too many. I wonder, of the four of them, which will survive. I wonder if they will beat the statistics. I pray that they will.

I pray - that day and this one - that God will spare them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was so so beautiful and sweet. i'm trying to hold back the always:) they are so precious.

p.s. i can't wait til you come!:)

Love, Liss

3:23 PM  
Blogger dawn said...

Wow, Amber. That's powerful stuff there. I feel like I'm going to be haunted by your memory of the kids too now.

If you go again next year, you should absolutely use this posting to help recruit volunteers and resources for the trip.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Megs said...

Amber you have such a beautiful dear heart

8:45 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Amber, you have such a heart for these children. I am so touched by this story. It is so difficult to feel helpless, isn't it?

11:59 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

powerful entry- it sounds like a very moving experience

8:11 AM  

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