Russian Flag

Day 11

Well the last few days have flown by and we have been busy and soooo tired at night and no time for the internet.  We are now in Moscow and just had a full day today viewing the Kremlin and other sites.   We had a great day, but are ready to board the plane tomorrow and head back to family and friends.  We are also ready for the little things like sleeping in our own comfy beds and brushing our teeth with tap water and not bottled water.  We have been blessed with warm showers every day, good food, and sweet hugs from the precious children every night - so we haven't been complaining :)  but we are ready for some of America's blessings too.  This morning we had a touching debriefing meeting where we discussed what God has taught us, what we will miss, and how our team was full of unity and service and love to each other.
The last few days at the orphanage were so full of fun, more times with kids, staff and lots of things to do.
Actually at the end of the 8th day at the orphanage Ruthie, Lori, Carolyn, and Robin (for a little bit where he devoured about 12 specially made cookies) were treated to chai with some of the night caretakers.  Ruthie and Lori had joined them a few nights back, and were invited back for some homemade cooking.  So at around 10pm-12:30am we sat around eating great Russian cooking, drinking chai, trying to communicate using the dictionary and one of the high school boys who knows some English, and just laughing with five Russian women.  They asked us many questions about America like do we use credit, what do we do with little kids when both parents work, and do we women drive.....  There hospitality, openness, and smiling faces were so worth staying up for.  The community they share with each other was wonderful to be able to share with them.  They even allowed Ruth and Lori to give a few of them back massages which they appreciated very much.
Our 9th day (8th day at the orphanage) was American Day.  We planned the entire day plus cooked all the food with the cooks help.  Even though it was a bit gray and rainy out we had a fun day.  We had great American food planned out by Robin and his kitchen crew, team games in the gym, board games in the cafeteria, a type of scavenger hunt in the afternoon, more picture crafts and gliders and new beads, plus a fun night of worship songs, laughter with competitions and skits, and Bob sharing his testimony.  We all laughed at the skits, and were touched by Bob's openness about how God has been working in his life.   The older boys even took part in our skits doing a type of gangster drama - all dressed in camouflage and using ketchup and their bullet/wound tatoos as props.  It was wonderful that they planned it out and felt comfortable being a part of the time.
The next day was talent show day so it involved lots of practice before the talent show at 5:00.  All of us except for Debbie were talked into learning various Russian dances.  All in all, though it may appear we are all talented  with dancing :) it was fun, tiring, and really just a time to laugh at ourselves and try our best and look funny in costumes.  We also put on a few funny skits, and Bob and Debbie (our real talent) played the piano.  Many kids and staff worked hard at various skits, songs and dances.  They even sang us the song "I just called to say I love you" in English.  This orphanage has lots of loving, talented staff who practice a lot with the kids.   That day also involved some more crafting with kids and also getting ready all the gift bags for the staff and kids.  Ruth was in charge of that, and with all our help plus the translators things came together wonderfully.  We had lots of little gifts (toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, toys, tea towels) for everyone and put them in many bags that the kids had decorated.  We were so fortunate to many of our supporters and generous stores who donated many gifts we only used about 1/3 of our budge for gifts.  THANK YOU!

This night was "disco" night and the cafeteria was cleared out for dancing.  The little boys were doing lots of cartwheels, break dancing, and just plain running around, while we were able to get some of the 12-14 year old boys out on the dance floor and teaching them some dance steps.  It just seemed like everyone wanted to be there together in whatever way possible.  Prayers that night were full of love and hugs over and over and over knowing it is our last night.
And then the last day was our good-bye to the kids and staff.  We had an early breakfast and then a thank you ceremony where we hand out gifts to all the staff and kids.  We all line up for hugs and good-byes.  It is hard to say good-bye to some, as each of us have been touched by various kids and staff.   The kids were all going off to 3 different camps and packed up and were loaded on to vans at the same time as us.  We said our good-byes once again and then headed off in our van to Moscow - to get a few ZZZZ's during the drive.  We were all exhausted and excited to be going home and sad to be leaving - but most of all overjoyed with being able to spend these precious 10 days with the kids at the Ribnoe orphanage and share God's love with them and the staff.  There is so much more that happened that could be shared, and I'm sure you will hear more from those you know on the trip.  We also have a trip report on August 26th at MPPC at 12:30 if you'd like to hear more and see more pictures.  For now, we are off to bed and look forward to seeing many of you soon.