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Day 7

Most of the kids are back in school today, giving our team some time to interact with smaller groups of children.  After breakfast, we visited the family unit of the smallest children (6 and younger), where Nancy told the story “The Rainbow Fish,” complete with a pipe-cleaner octopus!  The kids were attentive to this charming tale about sharing, and then we gave each of them a gift bag containing stickers, crayons, a coloring book, and stuffed animals.  We all enjoyed holding the kids and playing with them.

We immediately departed with eight of the older orphanage children for an Orthodox monastery 20 minutes from Ribnoe, where we walked around the grounds, stepped inside the church, and ate lunch.  Several priests and monks showed us around and discussed the history of the monastery, which was built shortly before the October Revolution and shut down under the Communist regime.  Talk about a beautiful place!  The children sang several times along the tour.

We are presently preparing for our dinner with the staff here at the orphanage.  They have been so good to us, and we will never forget their hospitality.  Also, tonight, the kids are performing their talent show – sure to include lots of dancing, singing, and recitation.  We’ve been asked to perform as well (!).  Emily and I (Julie) are singing Christmas carols (I shouldn’t have said that I once sang harmony in my church choir…), Nancy is showing off her animal sound talent, and several of us are again performing our rendition of Max Lucado’s “You Are Special” – a message that ministers to even us team members.

Honestly, it’s been a little wearing these past few days.  We are so tired at the end of the day, and a few of us are fighting off colds.  Not to mention the incredible wind chill in the area!

While I can speak only for myself, I believe we’d all agree that continue to be blessed daily by God’s grace.  Please pray for strength for the rest of today and tomorrow as we depart for Moscow.  Tomorrow will surely be a difficult day for the team and the children as we separate.

It’s hard to believe the trip is winding down.  We miss you all in the Bay Area and look forward to sharing our stories with you when we return.