The trip home started with a quiet bus ride from Slobodskoy to Kirov. Some rested, some talked quietly – but all of us decompressed from an intense week of loving and being loved.
We stopped in Kirov for some quick souvenir shopping and dinner. We dined at the same restaurant from our first meal in Russia (the “chicken and fries” place). Once again, we took up the entire restaurant as we included our eleven translators in this final breaking of break. This time, we were treated to a wonderful beef stroganoff with spaghetti noodles – another culinary delight from these generous restaurant owners.
The highlight of the meal, however, was dessert. After no dessert for the entire week, many of the kids (okay, and a few adults) were dealing with a neglected sweet tooth. So we were thrilled to be asked the question, “Would you like some ice cream this evening?” Everyone indulged with different toppings ranging from fruit to shaved chocolate to a full fledged Russian banana split.
Our last set of goodbyes came at the train station, where we had to bid adieu to our translators. However, this goodbye was not filled with tears but rather smiles. Our shared journey and experiences will be a lasting memory from this trip of a lifetime. All the translators gathered on the train platform, some with their husbands and kids, and waved enthusiastically as our train pulled away. We will keep in touch with these news friends as well; however, handwritten letters will likely be replaced by emails and Facebook postings on each others’ walls.
The train seemed different this time. The rooms seemed a little roomier; the luggage seemed to fit a little better, even the temperature seemed a little cooler. But perhaps it was not the train that was different but rather us. Experience and transformation will do that to a group.
It’s quite providential to have ended our time with the kids on Good Friday. We now get to spend the 40 hour trip home continuing to journey with Christ as we experience the pain of His crucifixion and prepare for His triumphant arrival on Easter Sunday. He is Risen indeed!!