Today was so full! Full of funny moments, full of awholelotta walking, and full of joy.
Here’s just a few moments of note.
1. Addy and Ezra’s class went on a trip to the local puppet theater today. We found out just yesterday that kids who wanted to, could go today. I wondered why we always find these things out at the very last moment. Then…aha! I discovered an announcement board outside their classroom! Yes, I know, it’s been there all along…but when all you see everyday is walls filled with things you don’t understand, it’s hard to know what to pay attention to and really try to decipher, and what isn’t worth your time. I don’t often have the desire to stand in the school halls with Google Translate at my side, so I usually go with the “if it’s really important they’ll tell me” route. No more! I will now be vigilantly watching for new notes on the announcement board. No more surprise field trips for the Johnson fam! We will now be well-informed members of society. (Here’s to hoping at least)
2. When I dropped the kids at school this morning their teacher asked me if I wanted to come along on the field trip. Sure, why not? She mentioned it was quite a long walk, but if I thought the Littles would be up for it they could come too. Well, Jed was in Kyiv today, so if I wanted to be there then the Littles would have to buck up and and hike along with us.
I gave Hava and Seth a pep talk about being strong, not crying and whining when we go on the long walk….blah blah blah…”If we whine and cry then Teacher probably won’t invite us on another trip, right?”
I’m happy to report that they did great on the walk. 🙂 It was about a mile walk from the school to the theater. It was HILARIOUS to be a fly on the wall with Addy’s and Ez’s class. It’s also funny to learn all the in’s and out’s of school here. Like, for field trips, there’s no permission slips, no planning what parents will drive, no parents at all! Their brave teacher just confidently lined up boys in one line and girls in another, and headed out on the walk with all of her students. Along busy streets, across crosswalks, she walked in the front, trusting the kids would follow. When school classes cross streets they hold up a red flag so cars will stop. One kid in the front of the line holds a flag, a kid at the back of the line holds a flag, and the teacher holds a flag. When crossing a street she just walks on out there, risking life and limb 😉 and stands in the middle of the street for her class to cross. They do this every day when they walk from one building to another for lunch. Today I got to see it in action. I tell ya, that teacher is one brave woman. One woman, taking a whole class on a mile walk through town to a field trip and back. She totally rocks it. I wasn’t a ton of help since I had Havalah and Seth, but I tried to keep the stragglers from straggling too far behind.
3. I’m a “smeller”. Smell means a lot to me. How things smell really matters, I can’t overlook a bad smell with much grace at all. It’s a struggle. But, being a “smeller” can also bring a lot of joy! Good smells make me so happy! Anyway, I do have purpose for telling you that. While walking back to the school today I had such a strange moment. I smelled a very beloved smell. I smelled “Mission Trip” smell.
All throughout my teen years I went on mission trips. I traveled all over the world during high school and college. God put the world in my heart and I just had to go. There’s a certain smell I remember from mission trips that I’ve never smelled in the US. It’s a smell you smell when you’re walking on a city street. I don’t know what all it entails, but it’s a mixture of gasoline, tires, foreign food cooking…and I don’t know what else. I love that smell. To me, that smell means Jesus. It means being Jesus to the people He’s called you to. It means going out of your comfort zone and giving your all for His sake. It means loving people that you don’t understand and doing things you don’t understand, simply because Jesus said to, and it is what you were created for.
Today I smelled that smell. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked around and saw my children walking ahead of me in a line with their class. I heard the buzzing of Ukrainian/Russian swirling around my ears. For a moment I thought “Oh my word. This is really happening. This is my life. I CAN’T EVEN BELIEVE THIS.” I was overcome with thankfulness, and completely humbled. All my life I dreamed of this and now it’s happening. May I never, ever forget what a joy it is to serve Christ in this way. The last couple weeks have been hard for me, personally. My heart needed that smell to remember it’s purpose. 🙂
4. Jed got to spend the day in Kyiv with some boys from Romaniv! MTU took some of the highest functioning boys to see a dolphin show. Jed got to go along and he had a great time. I’ll let him tell you about that at another time. I just have to share a sweet moment that happened on their way home.
Jed texted me as I was cooking dinner and let me know the boys’ bus was stopping at MTU on the way back to Romaniv so the boys could use the bathroom and volunteers could go home. He asked if I wanted to come say hi. YES YES YES!!!!! I hurried the kids to put on their shoes, paused on the dinner-making, and flew out the door.
Oh.My.Word. Dream come true. Watching my own kiddos meet some our “Our Boys” was so, so sweet. They Boys were so curious and kind. They attempted the kids’ names and shook all their hands. Valera, our “helper” (highest functioning boy) in the Isolation Room was there and I was so happy for the kids to meet him!!! We talk about him all the time. I feel like “The Boys” have been like some big mystery to our kids. Now they have faces for some of the names. Now they see they are real people. Ezra and Havalah were pretty shy. Seth was curious. Addy was smitten. Her eyes were glowing. It was like a celebrity sighting! As soon as we walked out of the building to head home she said “Mom! When do I get to start helping at Romaniv???” Soon I hope. 🙂
So, that was today. There were other small funny moments too, like when I walked in to gymnastics to pick up Addy and one mom that I see all the time finally blurted out “Why did you come to Zhytomyr??” Hahaha! Like it’s been bugging her all this time and she finally just had to ask. Hilarious. Or when the kids were getting ready for bed and Hava and Seth tricked me. They acted like they had their jammies on, but then on the count of 3 pulled back their covers to nakey little bodies. Oh they laughed so hard! Meanwhile Addy died laughing as Ezra screamed over and over at the top of his lungs, “Слава Україні! Слава Україні!” (“Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine!”)
Is this life for real?
Some really great things happened today (immigration approvals! VISAs! killer samples at Trader Joe’s!), but this, my friends, is my favorite. I laughed (the “spelling word” list), I cried (“mission trip smell”–familiar from Guatemala and I know will be smelled in China) and I just felt the Holy Spirit jumping off this screen in the smiles of Jed and your boys. I’m very, very full right now. <3
<3 <3 <3 so wishing wishing we could visit real soon…
Love the updates! I think of you regularly as well as the boys.