XIII. Over Halfway Done

by valerie shultz

July 20, 2011

1532 hours

We just finished our third day of camp.  Of course we’ll be here to hang out with the kids until after we have dinner with them, but our official teaching is done.  It is so hard to believe that we are more than halfway through our teaching days now.  Only two to go.  Saturday we will go on an excursion with the kids and Sunday we will go to church with them, but it won’t be the same as these teaching days, where we are directly engaged in structured activities with them.

We opened the day as we always do, with songs and prayer, and an opening activity.  Today was Courtney’s teaching day, Carol having handed over the responsibility after two days of being in charge.  Today was the story of Easter, and Courtney shared our very blue, American custom of hunting Easter eggs with the kids.  They had fun racing each other for little plastic eggs with stickers and English vocabulary words inside.  Then Courtney shared her very personal and very touching story of finding religion for the first time just a year ago, and her baptism when she was 35 years old.  It was intense to watch her share this story with her little listeners with tears in her eyes.

She discussed sin and how all of our sins are forgiven.  She handed out strips of paper so each person could write a sin they have in their life on the paper.  We then joined these strips into a chain, to show that nobody is alone in their sin.  The plan was to burn this chain at the end of the day, but God and mother nature had other plans.  It rained for hours today, giving us Arizonans a good dose of this very different environment.  I think the chain was either washed away or received a thorough water baptism.

I was in the craft module today with Karen, and Courtney arranged for us to make three crosses.  We made a cross necklace, with yellow, green, blue, white, red and black beads to signify the sunshine, earth and water God created, white for His purity, red for the blood Jesus shed, and black for death and darkness.  We told this story as they put them together and again after they were done.  The children seemed especially absorbed in the story today.  They made two other crosses, one of which said God and Love on it to represent His love for the children.

Lunch was – hmm, what was lunch?  You know, I still haven’t figured that out.  I got a soup that was different from everybody else because the main soup had meat in it.  My soup was very bright pink with something resembling a cross between a pierogie and a ravioli in it.  There was something inside of it, though again, I’m not sure what.  Mushrooms, perhaps.  Then I was served a plate with two patties on it.  They looked like chicken, but I think they were some form of beans and grains mixed together.  And French fries.  I knew what the French fries were.  Everything was delicious.

We had our third group in the craft module, and this was my “high” for today.  There is a group of foster boys here, and at first they were very reserved, as you would expect of foster children, regardless of which country they are in or language they speak.  These are the boys I’ve mentioned who have bonded so strongly with Ethan and Jeremy.  I thought perhaps this was going to be the only bond the boys would have this week.

But today I got this chance.  The boys loved the craft activity today and they were very excited every time they got a bead or string handed to them.  They said thank you every time, and each time, their smiles grew a little bigger and a little brighter.  Then they started being playful.  I had a moment of being silly with them, and dancing to Olek’s earphones, laughing because he had it in his ear but it had no music playing.  These boys speak very little English, but the non-verbal communication is especially effective with them and they are very receptive to every effort we make with them.  I’ve always been interested in adoption or foster children.  Now I know this will be something else at some point in my future, in some capacity.

Oh, and by the way, they do like to speak English here.

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