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Day 2

Today is the second day of our quality time with the graduates, the MC staff, the translators and the Mariners Team.

Sveta, the Activity teacher and translator at the MC, discussed with me (Vielka), the need for resources for activities at the MC. Jeff and I had brought her a few items, such as friendship bracelet items, colorful pencils, etc., and she was fully touched by the materials and our giving hearts towards the graduates. She said that she is looking forward to spending time “doing” and “making” several items with the graduates. It was a dream come true for her---to have the materials-- in order to begin her classes, and quality time “as a teacher,” with all the graduates.

We saw some new graduate faces at the center. A couple of girls with smiling faces made their way to the kitchen at the MC, to have tea with Sveta and me. They shared their joy for being at the center, and for having tea with a new American friend. They couldn’t stop smiling back at me. At the time, I shared one of my stories about my coming to the United States from Ecuador, as a teenager, and how God opened a few doors for my life—through faith and believe--- in order to fulfill his purpose to serve him unconditionally. In the middle of the conversation, Sveta needed to step out and couldn’t translate anymore—for various reasons concerning the MC---and we just moved to the ping pong area to have more coffee instead. The girls continue to sit next to me (even though we weren’t speaking to one another), and they even made me a “great cup of coffee.” It was just so sweet to have them near and being joyful about our time together, even when we couldn’t speak to each other.

Watching the ping pong area developed into a place of sharing our gifts and talents provided us great insight about how graduates cope with their own pain and joy, even when they don’t seem too happy, but still play the game and try to deal with whatever emotions they have for that particular day or time frame. Those emotions reflect through their expressions throughout the day—especially at the ping pong area.

Dima, one of the graduates, will be normally found at the ping pong area---playing or just hanging out to watch who is trying to learn the skills of the game; and so it’s Katya, another graduate, who is also so good at ping pong, and love to smile to everyone even when she loses the turn (which happens rarely), and just loves the game. More graduates join Dima and Katya to either play competitions between four players or to just to enjoy being cheerful to one another. Jeff played a few times with the graduates, and bonded with the older boys at the MC. Pretty unique indeed!

The Mariners Team arrived at the MC in the afternoon, and we gathered around the living room to introduce ourselves and briefly tell the graduates our purpose of our visit. The graduates were so happy to see so many American friends; especially young teens who look so eager to play games and enjoy time with them as well.

The night ended with dinner at the local café, and all of us wishing each other “good night.”!