The savagery was on every TV channel, impossible to ignore. Refugees by the thousands were pouring into neighboring countries, stressing already stressed economies. Aid organizations couldn't meet the demands, despite heroic efforts. Families were ripped apart in the confusion, parents were killed. And orphans were made. The decision to send the broken families and orphans to 'safe' places around the world was made. And our community, specifically, our church, decided to help.
Several families adopted families. And in the end, I adopted two girls, sisters, orphaned by the savages of war. As youth minister for our church, nobody thought it odd that a single, 30-something male would have two young girls in his house. At the time, I didn't think it odd either. I'd never had lustful thoughts about my young charges. Well, that's not totally honest, I'd had some: A quick peek down a loose tank top at a small breast, or a sneak look up a young girl's wide shorts opening, while sitting on damp grass on a Sunday morning reading scripture. But it was never anything I'd acted on.
The congregation was educated in the customs and norms of our new friends. While we didn't share a religion, we essentially believed the same thing and that was enough. We were taught snippets of their language, nothing complex, but enough to elicit a smile from our instructor.
The day came and our adopted arrived at the airport. A large part of our congregation turned out as a welcoming committee - a thoughtful gesture but completely overwhelming to our war-weary friends. We found those we'd be responsible for and introduced ourselves.
"Hi, I'm Mark," I said in their language. "And that's about all I know how to say!" I added in English, with a smile.
The two girls looked at me a giggled. "That's okay," said one, the older one, "I can speak English a little, okay?"
I nodded and smiled. The older girl was beautiful, in a virgin-Mary sort of way. Her bright blonde hair framed a slim (not gaunt) face. She had high cheekbones and a small dimple on her chin that looked like a scar. Her clothes were clean but worn. She was wearing a slacks, nylon or rayon I guessed, and a white blouse. The thin fabric couldn't totally conceal the brown bra she wore. It covered two wonderful, small breasts. I was embarrassed at the stirring in my loins.
She didn't seem to mind that I'd been staring at her, or didn't notice. "I'm Tasha," she said. "And this is my little sister, Ekaterina."
The younger girl curtsied and I almost chuckled at the site of it, but it was a sincere greeting. I bowed in response and Tasha nodded approvingly. Ekaterina was slender, like her sister and had yet to develop breasts. She had wonderfully long legs, exposed since she was wearing tan, knee-length shorts. She had a denim shirt on and her hair, blonde like her sister's, was pulled back in a ponytail. She smiled shyly at me and I led the girls out to my car, following the rest of the crowd. We approached my Lumina and Tasha asked with amazement, "This is your automobile?"
"It's so big!" She exclaimed. "In our country cars are, uhm, what you say, uhm, tiny!" She spoke rapidly to her little sister and they both giggled.
I cocked my head in confusion, since I had no clue what they said.
"I'm sorry, that is rude. You can't understand us, no?" Tasha said sincerely. "When Kat found out that this big automobile was yours, she told me that in our country we could rent this out as an apartment!"
I laughed with her as she shook her head again in disbelief. It was a new experience - gaining the insights and perspectives of a foreigner and one of the primary reasons I chose to do this.
"Listen," I said, "It's not rude when you talk to your sister. I mean, you know more of my language than I know of yours. I understand, okay?"
Tasha nodded and smiled, "Thank you Mr. Mark, you are very kind."
"Just Mark," I said. It was Tasha's turn to be confused, so I added, "Just call me Mark, not Mr. Mark, okay?"
"Yes, yes, of course, uhm, Mark," She said.
Then she said something to Ekaterina and the little girl said in broken English, "Thank-you-Mark."
I nodded and started up the car. We drove to my house - actually the church owns it - in relative silence. The girls would point at something, giggle and look for something new. It was truly a whole New World for the girls. We got to the house twenty minutes later and I grabbed the girl's bags. It was pitiful that they only had three bags between them, but from what I saw at the airport, they were luckier than most. The stood in awe in front of the house and I thought about their comments about the car. Then the house, although modest by American standards, was going to be like a mansion to these two. It was a three-bedroom ranch that sat on a small valley, allowing for a walkout basement. I'd personally taken the unfinished basement and turned it into a bright, airy rec room. I had a ping pong table, pool table, jukebox and two foos ball tables. All for the kids in my group, of course! The bedrooms were all upstairs. Mine was in the back of the house and the two smaller ones were in the front. We'd arranged the rooms so that each girl would have their own, but they insisted on sleeping in the same room, same bed. I figured the trauma of everything they'd been through made that more than understandable.
We spent the first few weeks learning about each other, really. Our cultures, our beliefs, our experiences in life. Tasha's English had developed very well and Ekaterina (I learned she preferred her nickname, 'Kat') was even starting to get comfortable with the language. The stamina and ability of kids to learn new things never failed to amaze me. At fourteen, Tasha had necessarily assumed the 'mother' role for Kat, who was only eleven. I could tell that Kat was the more traumatized of the two. And maybe because of this, I still hadn't had many lewd thoughts. I had accidentally walked in on Tasha when she was using the bathroom, but she seemed almost obtuse about it. When I apologized later, she explained that in the camps everyone used the great outdoors to do their duties. No walls, no curtains, just a trench or a hole in the ground. Besides, it was just urinating, she explained after looking the proper word up in our dictionary, why was that a big deal? I couldn't dare explain that viewing a girl's sexual organs, in any fashion, could be a huge turn on to men. And sometimes when they were urinating it was even more so. I couldn't explain that at all, now could I?
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Changes last made on: Tuesday, June 8, 1999