Man on the Street
On in our walk to the orphanage, there is a man who sits on the curb selling his little fish that I'm sure he caught himself either in the sea or somewhere nearby. The fish are about 3-4 inches long. He was there during our last visit, too. He lays these little fish out on a plastic bag and waves a small branch over them like all people selling raw, unrefrigerated meat do over here..I assume to keep flies off their goods.
Last time I saw him, I walked away feeling like I wanted to do something (like every other time I saw him), but was not sure how to do it. I didn't know how to ask him how much he wanted for the fish and I didn't know if I could handle a conversation...well, I was positive I couldn't handle a conversation!
When I have wanted to give someone money because they look poor or are digging through the trash, my husband's response has been, "They haven't asked and I don't want to offend them." Since he knows so much more about this culture, I've heeded his counsel, but here was an opportunity to help because I could buy this man's fish!
I started really thinking about it and decided that if it was bothering me that much, I should do something about it. So, I promised myself that I would buy all his fish the next time I saw him.
Then, he wasn't there for the next two days. During those two days, I finally heard the word I had forgotten that means "How much?"..."Skolka". I thought, okay I'm ready if I see that man again! Sure enough, he was there this afternoon. I took a deep breath and said, "Skolka?" and pointed to all the fish (around in a circle with my figure...remember my cross between English-Russian-ASL-hand gestures-Pictionary language?) He of course, started talking to me and I said in Russian, "I am from America. English please." (Are you impressed yet?)
He kept talking, so I took out my pen and paper (Pictionary, again) and said, "Skolka?" and pointed to the paper. He wrote, "3.25" To me, that meant 3.25 grivni for all the fish (which he had already put into a bag and handed to Chris). I handed him a 5 just because I wanted to help him...which was the whole point of digging the hole I was quickly sinking into in this situation!
He started talking again and turned to the woman nearby who was selling watermelons and held up the 5 and said something to her and she shook her head. I figured the problem was that he felt like he needed to give me change. I pointed to him and said, "For you" in English which really might as well have been gibberish. He took off his hat and threw it on the ground and then looked up at me with what looked to me like a smile. I was so confused about what was going on that I gave him a thumbs up and said, "Harasho?" (Okay?) He said something else and then got up and walked away.
We also walked away but I suddenly realized that what I had given him was less than a dollar. There are 8 grivni to a dollar and I had given him five. Then it occurred to me that maybe he was asking for 3.25 per fish and he had given us about 8 fish. We stopped and talked about the situation and decided that we would go back and see if we could give him more money, but all that was left was the watermelon lady.
So, I went up to her and, using my language, tried to ask her if we had cheated him. Imagine this conversation! Long story short, I came away with only one new piece of knowledge...that man won't be there tomorrow.
Of course, I worried about it the rest of the day and am still worried about it. We've prayed to have another opportunity to pay him more so I hope we'll get that chance in the next few days we're here. If not, all I can hope is that the Lord will explain the whole thing once he gets to the other side which, by the looks of him, won't be long!
The Lord's Timing
Andre's mom in Arizona tried to call him on his birthday yesterday, but the phone was ringing while all the adults were corralling the kids for a trip to the theater and I was outside trying to figure out if Ruslan and Nastia were going or not. It was sad to find out that she had missed the opportunity to talk to him on his special day. I know how disappointing that is.
We decided that we could use my phone instead of the orphanage phone to get in contact with him so I emailed her the number and we discussed the possible times she could reach him.
I had him with us during our morning visit just in case she called during those hours, but that was 1am her time so that didn't work very well.
I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure I'd be able to find him during our afternoon visit, but he was there, upstairs. We were outside playing when the phone rang. Andre had been watching us from the window so I knew where he was and sent the boys to get him. They ran back outside breathlessly telling me that the lady upstairs was yelling at the kids and was "really mad" that we were asking for Andre to come down. Apparently, when Chris had Ruslan tell her that his mama was on the phone, she growled at Chris and yelled at Andre to get back to work. :(
I got up from my seat and started to head toward building. I suddenly realized that I would probably need Ruslan and looked back to call him when...there he was, already coming to my aid! I call him my translator.
I got myself up there as quickly as I could, with his mom on the phone at my ear, and found Andre sitting on the couch. He was so forlorn. He is normally an extremely happy, loving, pleasant child but this time he didn't even get up to come to me or even smile. I gestured to him to come out of the room and I was ready to stare down the drill sergeant if she dared come near me! I whispered to him that his mom was on the phone and he started to smile.
I took him to a quiet area and mom and son got to talk...with Ruslan helping Andre understand his mom's rehearsed phonetic Russian. Yay, Ruslan!
Once he was off the phone, I told Andre that his mom really loved him and everything would be okay! He was himself again.
We left just about 20 minutes later. As we walked away, I marveled at the Lord's timing. Here, I had been concerned that she hadn't called in the morning hours, but Andre really needed her to call when she did. That moment was the lowest point of his day...but there was his mom, reassuring him, expressing her love for him and telling him that she missed him.
I am just so honored that I got to hold the phone while the Lord blessed a mom and son today! It reminds me that He is working in even the tiny details of our lives.
The Air Conditioner!
When the air conditioner arrived the other day, we were taken upstairs in the orphanage for a full tour and visit of the rooming areas our kids have lived in for two years. We took pictures of all the kids posing by the air conditioner and it was all very exciting!
Yesterday, there was terrible drilling going on while they made holes in concrete walls to the outside unit.
Today, we got to see and photograph the brand new finished unit! Everyone is so excited and grateful! Yay for our generous donor who made such a gift possible! And YAY that I got to play Santa and enjoy the response! (I'm really spoiled...)
|The new A/C unit in the girls' room!|