orfani: copii fără părinți
orphans: children without parents
I think I mentioned before that there was a camp for orphans going on the week I got here. Each child was paired with a youth from a local church, the plan being that they would become friends during the week and keep in touch after the camp was over. The week after the camp, we visited the two orphanages where these kids are from to play volleyball, soccer (or football, as the rest of the world calls it), and just spend some quality time with them. In addition, my friend who organizes the ministry with the orphans brings some of them to church every week.
Saturday night those who stayed with their "buddy" during the whole week of camp were rewarded with a huge pool party. Again, church kids and orphans were intentional about spending time together, beginning with a few minutes spent reading and discussing Bible verses about friendship. The funny thing is that I ended up being buddies with not one, but three kids, and somehow we managed to talk about the verses with my very limited (but growing!) vocabulary.Talk about not leaning on your own understanding! Sometimes you just know the Holy Spirit is doing the talking and listening for you.
To quote a famous researcher in language acquisition, "Conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful." Amen, Mr. Krashen.
I've been so blessed by the way these kids have accepted me even though I can barely talk to them. As the new person in town, I can't tell you how encouraging it is to walk into church and have eight little girls excited to see me -- a slightly self-centered pleasure, maybe, but I'm thankful for it. One of my favorite moments so far has been with a couple of girls at the orphanage here in town. Not being able to verbally joke with them, I made some funny faces while I "thought about" who to toss the ball to. I usually take any opportunity to make faces, as I think it lightens the mood in otherwise awkward or boring situations, so this seemed to me like the natural thing to do. Apparently this was hilarious, and the girls started laughing and trying to copy the way I was squinting my eyes (a la Miranda Sings). Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it, but that scene really made my day. It's funny how little moments like that can help you bond with kids, like they need to know it's ok for them to be young around you. Frankly, I enjoy knowing that it's ok for me to be young sometimes, too.
My silly-face pal was also one of the girls I hung out with at the pool party and after church yesterday. We may not say much to each other YET, but I'm telling you, we are kindred spirits. When you know, you know.