Here's something out of the archives -- from January of this year. The teacher gave me some photos of my visit this past Sunday, so I'm re-posting the entry along with one of the photo of me and the kids. See text from January below:
On Sunday, after Liturgy here in Panorama, one of the public school teachers from the elementary school asked me to come by her class and give the kids a talk about missionary work in the U.S. So I went this morning at 10:00 to Panorama's public elementary school and spoke for 40 minutes to a class of about 20 kids, who must have been about 8 years old.
First, I have to set this up, as it is quite amazing for me as an American, even after living here over 3 years. First, the class had gone to Liturgy that morning, and had just returned when I arrived. The Three Hierarchs (whose feast is celebrated Jan 30) are the patrons of education, and for this reason the tradition is for all kids to go to Liturgy on their feast. Since this year it falls on a Saturday, the kids went today instead.
So the teacher met me at the front of the school and we went to the classroom. On the way, I asked about the make-up of the class. She told me most of the kids were Orthodox, although one child was a Jehovah's Witness (yes, unfortunately, they're even here) and one, the poor soul, his parents had declared him as an atheist. So, in accordance with the law (I suppose), the teacher said to him that he could go join another class, since we were going to have religious instruction. He left, but the rest stayed, including the Jehovah's Witness.
The first thing I noticed about the classroom was a big icon of Christ hanging square above the blackboard. We had a nice discussion about the U.S., the religious composition there, and how some people are finding Orthodoxy and converting to it. One little girl gave me a nice drawing of a priest performing a baptism inside a church and wrote on it that they love me and want me to come back. They then all took my blessing and I left.
Before I left, though, the teacher took a photo of all of us together for their yearbook.