We're learning that Russian kids are really tough to bond well with. They (I expect this is mainly girls) have a rule of thumb that you can have one friend at a time. The rest of the time, you are free to betray the trust of the other girls and treat them like dirt. So one day they are your friend and the next they hate you. For a girl like Lydia, it's been especially hard to bear.
Even the girls at church are tough, in that they are generally quite immature and don't go out of their way to make an outsider feel at home. Lydia had a great overnight recently with some sisters, but they hardly talk with her at church. Another girl comes over to play when I work with her mother in counseling. Lydia is literally a few hours older than her, but this girl gets on better with Kerith because of her emotional maturity.
Diana and I are taking two very different but complementary courses of action. Diana is now on a warpath to find ex-pat friends. They are actually quite hard to find, especially with the diminishing missionary population here. We tried to avoid foreigners to some extend in the beginning, wanted to acculturate as much as possible, but we are now learning from the senior missionaries that no kid successfully makes it without close ex-pat friends. That's a shame, but it's the reality.
I'm a counselor, so Lydia and I have spent a lot of time talking and praying over these things, and she has grown leaps and bounds, though you hate seeing her have to go through what it takes to learn these lessons. She's letting go of her desire to have Russian friends for her own pleasure, and she is learning how to love them unconditionally and care for their souls as objects of God's reconciling love. She could have just pulled away from them, but she has shown tremendous resiliency in re-orienting her affections around God's perspective. It's a gift that I am confident she will reap the fruits of, as will many others, for the rest of her life.