It was raining when our team arrived at the orphanage. Driving up I saw a child in the window, sitting on the ledge of the second floor, leisurely hanging out. He saw us at the end of the road and started jumping up and down. Then he disappeared for a second and more kids appeared. They started running back and forth and there was a huge bustle of activity on the top floor as word quickly spread we were arriving. Then someone went downstairs and the same scene played out, with kids running back and forth on the bottom level. From the outside, it looked like one of those old video games, like (dating myself here) Donkey Kong or Mario Brothers, with activity on all of the levels and people running back and forth.
The kids ran out to greet us in the rain. There were smiles, shouts of “The Americans!! The Americans!!” I understand now how liberating armies must feel. The kids came out, just wanting to touch us, to hold and be held by us. I got the sense a couple of them didn’t quite know what to do, and still others held back in reserve. They grabbed all of our luggage and brought it into the orphanage. It was interesting when we first pulled up because they weren't sure who was going on the trip. As soon as they saw Tink they just exploded, yelling, "TEENK!!! TEENK!!! TEENK!!!"
We were then shown to our rooms by the director, Николай (Nikolai). It seemed like he wasn’t exactly expecting us; Of course, he was, but apparently preparation and hospitality are not his strong suits. After getting our luggage up to our rooms, we had a question and answer period in the Common Room, dubbed the Teacher’s Lounge, with Николай. We were instructed, via our interpreter, Елена, to “ask questions quickly", because Николай was “a busy man who is not even able to take vacation this year and must work very hard. You are privileged to be asking him questions, because he is an important man, and very busy, so please ask now. That is all.” It wouldn’t have been so laughable except that Николай is rarely even at the orphanage, and the entire place is in a general state of disrepair. Couple that with the car he arrived in (NOTE: This is not a link to the actual auto, but you get the idea...)and you get pretty much everything you need to know...and that is all.
Also, the swingset is still in the container. Apparently, they won’t let us unpack it because when we packed it up, we failed to inventory every single nut and bolt used to hold the swingset together. A second inventory was drafted and filed with (no kidding) the President of the country, President Лукашенко (Lukashenko), a man with issues of his own. Thank goodness Condaleeza Rice paved our way with excellent diplomacy just prior to our arrival and that her comments were so well received. To further add fuel to his fire, President Лукашенко was knocked off the Top Ten Worst Dictators. Lucky for us, Николай has some pull with the President….
We only had a few moments with the kids, but it was a great time. Как вас зовут (What is your name)? I met Пaшa and Caшa (Pasha and Sasha)—good boys. I also met two of the girls, a shy teenager named CBETA (Svyeta)and her roommate, Aлecca (Alyessa). We only got to “talk” for a few minutes because it was dinner time, then chores, then off to bed. Still, some of the kids stayed up a little to visit with us.
The “Feelings” incident led to a discussion of the Top 10 Worst Pop songs of all time. Our list:
10) You make Me Wanna Scream (The live version, of course)—Ashlee Simpson
9) Barbie Girl—Aqua
8) Karma Chameleon—Boy George
7) The Legend of Billy Jack—Coven?
6Achy Breaky Heart —Billy Ray Cyrus
5) Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog—Three Dog Night
4) Muskrat Love—Captain and Tenille
3) Mr. Roboto—Styx
2) MacArthur Park—Richard Harris
1) We Built This City on Rock and Roll—Starship (A simple Google search of the song’s title turned up this at the top)