The Final Countdown…and We’re Off

Wow – we just can’t believe it!! In just a few short hours, the next group of Mission 1:27 travelers will board our first plane for the long journey to Slobodskoy, Russia. For some of us, this trip is getting so familiar and feels more like a short trek to visit family just a few hours away; yet for the new travelers, the whole experience feels like a roller coaster of emotions and activities leading to an unknown and faraway place full of strangers. But to all of us, one thing is certain: we are supposed to be on this trip. We have been called to do this work and we are putting aside our fears, worries, work and stress to see what God has in store for us.

Here is the group (minus two) that will journey to Russia later today:

Mission 1:27 Travel Team - Spring 2011

We’re a wonderful mix of adults and kids, parents and students, business people and doctors, full-time parents and pastors. Past travelers and new travelers. Different expectations and fears. But all connected by our desire to serve God and others through this effort. One thing’s for sure – we may be leaving as different individuals but we will return as a unified group whose lives will never be the same based on our shared experiences in a rural part of Russia.

Final Prep – The Packing Party

In what has become tradition for the group, we met last Sunday for our famous “Packing Party.” This is the final time we are together as a group prior to our departure and we spend it doing last-minute preparation…mainly, packing our supply bags. On this trip, we are bringing 13 extra bags of supplies for our week at the orphanage. These bags include all of our supplies for our activities, our gifts for the kids and staff and many donated items (like Mitch Arnold’s 31 pounds of soccer equipment).

All the soccer equipment donated by "Peace is the Goal"

Some of the extra supply bags - ready for Delta!

It’s a fun event where we have a potluck dinner (such a “churchy” thing to do!), do a lot of laughing and pretend like we are ready to go!!

This last meeting had a few special activities as we are planning some surprises for our visit – namely, we are trying learn more Russian. We have a special opening ceremony planned for our arrival and our local Russian translator – a wonderful UNC graduating senior named Zhenya – came to our meeting to help us rehearse one last time. She stayed a little longer so that we could practice our conversational phrases as well.

The team working with Zhenya on our Russian lessons

Finally, we spent a little time working on some classic American songs that we will share throughout the week with our Russian friends. Our Russian friends LOVE to sing and we have not always brought our “A game” on the singing front. But not this year – we are READY with some classics!

Final Song Practice in the Sanctuary

The Journey

For those who may not know, this trip takes us almost 40 hours of calendar time from start to finish. We will leave RDU at 1:30 p.m. and get to the orphanage about 1:30 p.m. in Russia on Sunday. That’s 48 hours later – and with the 8 hour time difference, there’s your 40 hours!

We will take two flights, including the 10+ hour flight from Atlanta to Moscow, followed by a 14+ hour train ride on the Trans Siberian Railroad from Moscow to Kirov, followed by a one hour bus ride from Kirov to Slobodskoy. It’s not as bad as it sounds as we will get a little time in Moscow to visit the Kremlin and Red Square – and we get a yummy meal in Kirov at a restaurant owned by a friend of the ministry. But more on all that in future blog posts!

Our Trek - Using Planes, Trains and Automobiles (actually, Buses)

What’s the Weather Like?

That’s one of the frequently asked questions, so here’s the latest. Next week’s forecast for Kirov (not quite Slobodskoy but close enough):

Weather Forecast for our Trip

Nothing like the 80 F days we have been having in Chapel Hill, but those are going away for a while, too – so if it’s going to be cooler here, we might as well head back to winter in rural Russia. Actually, it looks quite comfortable given the time of year, and hopefully we will be able to play outside in the snow with the kids during our visit.

What We Will Be Doing – Day by Day

Finally, we thought you might enjoy seeing what our day-to-day itinerary looks like. These are subject to change but for the most part, here are the major activities:

Sunday March 27,2011 (First Day at Orphanage)

Morning

  • Arrive in Kirov 8 am for supply shopping and breakfast
  • 45 minute bus ride to our hotel in Slobodskoy

Afternoon

  • Opening Ceremony at the Orphanage
  • Name tags made for the children and Orphanage Staff
  • Disco Dancing

Evening

  • Family Time where American Travelers meet in groups with the children
  • Tuck in time for the children
  • Reflection Time at the hotel

Monday March 28th,2011 (Day #2 at Orphanage)

Morning

  • Galina, Orphanage Director will meet with the American Youth for Q/A
  • 2011 Graduates meet with Adult Travelers
  • Activities with the Children

Afternoon

  • Talent show preparation and Talent Show
  • Gift Bags for the children for their efforts in the Talent Show

Evening

  • Family Time where American Travelers meet in groups with the children
  • Tuck in time for the children
  • Reflection Time at the hotel

Tuesday March 29th,2011 (Day #3 at Orphanage)

Morning

  • Drawing Contests

Afternoon

  • Galimpics: Named after the Orphanage Director Galina: several teams (mixed with Americans and Russians) and mini Olympics atmosphere
  • Decorating Orphanage for Wednesday’s 50th Anniversary celebration

Evening

  • Movie Night with special treats
  • Returning Graduates from classes 2010 and 2009 meet with Adult travelers for discussion
  • Family Time where American Travelers meet in groups with the children
  • Tuck in time for the children
  • Reflection Time at the hotel

Wednesday March 30th,2011 (Day #4 at Orphanage)  50th Anniversay of the Orphanage

Morning

  • Elvina, the librarian, discusses the history of the Orphanage followed by a Quiz!
  • Round Table Discussion with Returning Graduate and soon to be 2011 Graduates: discussion about life

Afternoon

  • Press conference with Return Graduates, 2011 Graduates, Department of Education Officials
  • Concert at the Orphanage
  • Tea Tasting: similar to wine tasting here in the USA

Evening

  • SMORES for the children along with Family Time and Tuck In
  • Reflection Time at the hotel
  • Party for Translators at the hotel

Thursday March 31st , 2011 (Day #5 and final day at Orphanage)

Morning

  • Closing Slide Show
  • Saying Bye Byes

Afternoon

  • Bus Ride to Kirov to board Train, Trans Siberian Express, destination: Moscow

Evening:

  • In route to Moscow aboard the Train

Looks fun, huh? It will be an amazing trip full of familiar faces but new stories and new beginnings. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you in the coming week.

Updates in the Coming Days

Our plan is to post at least one new blog entry per day and you will be hearing from a number of different travelers. We hope you will take the time to really read and ponder the words of these blog posts; this is a powerful way for the travelers to try to capture and convey what God is doing in their lives amidst His children in rural Russia. And feel free to comment and react to the posts – this may enable you to experience similar emotions throughout our week and will help create a sense of community thousands and thousands of miles apart. For we are all in this together, and the work that is being done from those at home is equally as important as the work being done through the travelers. We are thankful for all of your love and support.

So, off we go…

In anticipation,

Mission 1:27

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4 thoughts on “The Final Countdown…and We’re Off

  1. A safe, healthy and wonderful trip for all. Thanks for your initial trip blog including agenda which allows those of us “at home” to envision what you’re doing at any point in time (figuring the 8 hour difference.) Prayers and blessings to each traveler on this very special journey. Tandy Wood

  2. Praying for safe travels for the group and a wonderful experience for everyone. Slobodskoy Orphanage is a special place filled with very special people. We are so lucky God called Christ Church and especially all of you to be on this journey. Let them know that the whole church family here loves them:).

  3. I love joining you vicariously through the postings and photos. Please give Sasha Peskov a special hug from me and thank him for his letter (the 1st one he’s written!). On the way there you take the extra bags of supplies and on the way home you bring your ever-expanding hearts. Safe travels and have a joyous experience.

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