Sorry there hasn't been an update from team St Pete in awhile. I sent an email off to Brandon last week and discovered this week that it was returned to me! Didn't make it across the ocean, apparently!
This past week has been quite the challenge. We are working with runaways at a center. The center is divided into 2 sections, upstairs and downstairs. The downstairs kids are the ones who just came off the street. They are literally locked in a space the size of about 4 or 5 dorm rooms, and can't go outside because they'll run away again. When they are picked up off the streets, they are brought to the center, cleaned up, the heads are shaved on the boys, and they are issued clothing, and in they go. For about 3 weeks the center will search for parents, relatives, anyone. But about 3 or 4 weeks, the kids are there to stay. We haven't figured out if there is a timetable for them to stay downstairs, but one boy said he's been there for 2 years!! There are about 12-14 kids downstairs. The upstairs kids have more freedom, but not much. They are the kids whose families were never found, but they won't run away. Sort of like Russian foster care. They can go outside, but we can only take 5 out at a time, and there has to be 4 adults outside also. I think there's 15 or so upstairs. It's hard to say exactly, because the downstairs kids come and go each day. When we leave each afternoon, most likely there'll be some gone and some new ones the next day.
The downstairs kids are very sweet, something I wouldn't have expected from street kids. They are generous, and gentlemanly even! They are also so starved for attention. They never see anyone but their counsellors and the other downstairs kids. When we come, we love and pay attention to them, and they eat it up. The challenging part are the kids upstairs, who don't seem to care about anything. As Carly said, They have teen angst. We think some of them are glad we are there, but they don't want to show that they are glad....you know teenagers!! :)
So this week we have a mini skit and a lesson planned to introduce God to the downstairs kids, because they finally trust us enough. So pray that something willl be retained from what we say. Also pray for guidance as we deal with the upstairs kids and figure out how to reach them. Unfortunately time is not on our side, as we only have one more week with them!!
This weekend was good for relaxing, as we saw Swan Lake on Friday, went to Peterhoff on Saturday, and explored more of the Hermitage today. We had a Peterhoff adventure as Carly's camera got stolen by gypsies. It was the strangest thing ever, and we actually have part of the theft on video. But since they are gypsies, we couldn't get the camera back, even though we launched a nearly 3 hour long operation to recover it. She lost all her 300+ pics....
The gypsy story is really long, I'll have to tell it in person, it sounds better that way anyway. Wow, our team has so many adventures/problems, but our leader Tanya, said that if we didn't have so many problems, she'd be worried because Satan is going to try to stop us as we work for God. We must be having an impact here that Satan is worried about!
Sadly, our trip is coming to an end, as we fly out from St Petersburg on the 25th and arrive back in Seattle on the 26th. It seems so natural to be here, it's so strange to think about leaving!
This is really long, sorry!!