Greetings from Russia. We want everyone to know that we arrived safely today – all is well and everyone is healthy and happy. Today was a whirlwind day that included another delicious breakfast at our favorite Kirovian restaurant, shopping for supplies, driving to Slobodskoy, checking in at the hotel and taking a quick shower, all before 2:00 pm. Then it was off to the orphanage for our first day’s activities. We are exhausted physically but on an emotional high otherwise!
For the returning travelers, today was a true homecoming – from being greeted at the door by Galina to the enthusiastic hugs we received from the kids, staff, caregivers and interpreters. For the new travelers, it appears to be a surreal experience that words can’t describe…so I won’t even try. You should be hearing from a few of them throughout the week. But tonight is probably not the night as they process many thoughts and emotions from today.
Today’s activities included an opening ceremony with all the kids at the orphanage singing to us and greeting us in traditional Russian etiquette. We reciprocated with a scripted “Opening Ceremony” of our own including each of our young adults reciting a line in Russia. They did quite well if I do say so myself. After a quick lunch in the orphanage, Galina took us on a tour of the facility, where we reacquainted ourselves with the building and the kids. We then did our nametag activity, followed by a round robin “name game” that only Galina could have produced!
We then got to spend time with a smaller group of orphans, just chatting and playing games…before another meal (it was already dinner time). The night ended with us being able to spend a few minutes with the same group of kids for tuck-in, wishing them a good night and sweet dreams. It was an exhausting day for all of us…although our Russian friends seemed pretty wired even as we were leaving. The evening concluded with a short time of reflection led by Rush focusing on the topic of family.
We’re going to keep this first blog post short as it is very late at night in Slobodskoy (11:30 pm) and we just finished our day here. We’ve been awake for the better part of 48 hours now. But rest assured that you’ll be hearing from us more frequently in the coming days thanks to some very generous friends of Mission 1:27 who have provided a way for us to get regular and consistent internet access. So stay tuned for more updates when we are more awake! Blessings to everyone and thanks for your love and support.