Our hands fold around mugs of hot tea. With only three days until the city turns the heat on for the year, these final days are cold and sometimes painful. I'm nursing an old back injury, brought back by lifting too many heavy things these last few weeks.
After a morning of conversation with the students around the center, my numb fingers try to peck out a sermon. Maybe my mind is frozen, too. I just can't get my thoughts across. As with any writer's block - the key is to not panic. Just accept that today probably won't produce a hum-dinger, but hope that something foundational can be created.
The chanting is always distant at first. Some days it seems that a riot is inevitable. The Minister of Education will be imposing a fine of 50 UAH for each lesson missed by every student. My friends who have managed to find employment generally make about 5 UAH an hour. Yes, it would take 10 hours of work to pay the fine for missing a SINGLE class.
We work with University students. That's our ministry here. We pray them through the bi-annual seasons of finals where they labor over tests for more than a month at the end of each semester. We teach conversational English to supplement their grammar-intense English courses. And we march beside them in opposition to unfair laws which attempt to place the blame for the poor education system in the laps of students.
A few more days and the heat will return to our apartments. That minor gripe will disappear. How long until the students are given a quality education which supports their desire to learn and to grow?