So, luckily, I still get to do my favorite part of ministry while in Poland. Playing with kids! This is definitely an area where God has gifted me; I love coming and playing with them no matter how much work we've already done that day. We can't understand a word each other says (they don't even speak Polish, it's a dialect from their community), but it doesn't matter. We have fun and I can make them laugh anyway!
We've been several times now, and each time I love it. We start by walking down the block to their camp to see if which kids are around and if they want to come. The buildings are low, long, cement buildings divided into small apartments, From what I saw it seemed like there was a good number of people per home. Our first day was pretty popular. Four or five came immediately, the rest followed and joined a few minutes later, a little shy of us newcomers.
Every week we do a few dances so the younger kids can get their wiggles out. Musical chairs also turned out to be a fantastic game to play, though a little rowdy at times. Then we started getting artsy. One night we had a painting craft with water colors and Tamara drew designs on their arms. We've also made paper plate butterflies and given them pictures of us to color. Another night we brought waffles, filled in the holes with chocolate, and let them decorate them like Christmas cookies. That one was definitely a hit.
Sometimes we can only find 4-5 kids at home, but then it's really cool to get to play with them more one-on-one! They like to watch us dance but are shy when there aren't many people to join in. So the solution, of course, is to dance with them.
Our last two times were some of my favorites. We had 15 kids one night, which was more than we had expected! We also made the mistake of giving them hot cocoa at the beginning of the event, which meant there was a lot of extra energy in the room. Well, we know for next time. Two of the older girls spoke a little English, so I was able to talk with them some, which was a lot of fun.
For our last event with them, we wanted to go out with a bang. We created a mini scavenger challenge hunt around the park outside the church, which seemed to go really well. They enjoyed moving around outside, even though it was a little chilly, and all of them were pretty well engaged. Then we let them try candies from Ukraine and America and gave them paper plates with the above picture taped on. It was such a simple thing but they really appreciated it. I don't know how often these kids receive something of their own or are told how wonderful they are, but based on their reactions I'm guessing not all that much. It was a really cool way to end our time here, and I'll miss them a lot.