Today seemed like any other Tuesday in Ternopil - started my day with Slava knocking on my door ("Jennyyyyy... yiste!"), had an omelette and Кава for brekky, caught the #19 with Jessica around 9, at the Інтернат by 10. My morning with the girls involved a rousing game of Monkey in the Middle, some soccer, a lot more dancing (much to Tamara's delight), cuddling the маланка's, and drawing... Miri and I were in a classroom with a few of the older girls, colouring to our hearts' content, wondering what had happened to our third musketeer.
Jess finally found us after spending some time outside in the courtyard with an American missionary named Gayla and her Ukrainian translater, Lena. Gayla and her husband have been living in Ternopil for the past thirteen years, and most Tuesdays, Gayla and Lena come to visit the girls of the Інтернат. Gayla has been teaching the girls songs, telling them the stories of Jesus, and simply loving them - slowly but surely breaking down their tough exteriors over the past few years.
It was awesome to get to know Gayla this morning, as she is a wealth of information. She knows the stories of individual girls, of how they ended up living here. She knows how to work around the director, to ensure that funds and supplies are beneficial to the girls - not his bank account. And she knows that each girl is of incredible worth, despite the strong social stigma that exists throughout Ukrainian society. She is a sassy woman, matter of fact and clearly full of devotion to her faith. I'm looking forward to her Tuesday visits, and am thrilled to know that we are not the only regular visitors that these girls see.