There is an orphanage about a kilometer from LCC. I had been there once before today. During the previous visit we got to know the children’s names, personalities, and a little bit of their humor. We played the most exciting game of Duck, Duck, Goose ever and threw teddy bears at each other.
Today was slightly different. We arrived at the orphanage and were greeted excitedly by Martinas, one of the children. He was dressed to play outside, and outside we were promptly led. We went to the gym to see if some of the kids playing there wanted to come with us. Martinas suggested (and decided) that we go to the park not too far from the orphanage. I actually didn’t know that there was a park, but it’s past a memorial cemetery and quite far down a bike trail in the woods. I had actually been there before, but by a very different and round about way one of the first days here. Regardless, it is a very nice playground. There is also a high ropes course being built in the woods around it. We stayed with six or seven kids for about 45 minutes laughing, chasing each other, and eating cookies. The kids know very little English, most of which comes from pop songs and, therefore, is practically useless. However, we can still have fun. Although most of them do speak Russian so my friends can translate for me. One girl named Evelyna has some physical handicaps, but has a witty, ornery, and contagious sense of humor to make up for it. She has a difficult time speaking, so she often spells words in order to communicate. However, she seems to be one of the few children who has a fairly good grasp on English (and Russian and Lithuanian). She always seems to understand what I’m saying no matter what language I happen to try. Today, she decided to chase me and get as close to me as possible without me noticing and then pretend to fight with me. Then she stops, gives me a judgmental look with her hands on her hips, and asks why I laugh so much. Then she proceeds to laugh at my reaction. She’s quite hilarious for a 10-year-old.
Our time there was short today, but very enjoyable. All but two of the LCC students were planning on going to church in the evening and we had to catch the bus to make it there in time, so we had to go. Even after just 45 minutes, the children didn’t want us to leave. On both sides, it made all of us sad. They love the attention and care they get from us, but we know that they have hard lives. Although they are sufficiently cared for, they still lack a proper family. We learned in our Study Abroad Seminar that adoption is very rare in Lithuania, and even more so for children with handicaps. It’s strange to think that they will go through all their childhood without immediate family, and then they will enter adulthood, leave the orphanage, and still not have a family.
On a different note, I have been thinking about the friendships I’ve made here. Right now, they are rewarding and I love that I get to hear about people’s lives. But what happens when I leave and most likely never see any of these friends again? What is the purpose of my investment? Should I invest in lives and friendships here? Please pray that the friendships I make here will not just be a relationship between me and person, but, that by being here, I could be used as a tool to assist people in their relationship with Jesus. What else is a lasting impact? Pray that I have opportunities to talk to people and live out my faith…or at least give them something to think about.