Author: Kendall W. is a ninth grader and on her second trip to Slobodskoy, this time traveling with her younger sister and dad.
Yesterday was the first day back at the orphanage after a long year’s wait to see everyone again. I had been thinking about what it would be like to come back ever since we left last March. How would the kids respond to seeing us again? What would be different this time?
As we drove into the orphanage, there was a kid holding the door open to us and we saw him call into the orphanage that we were here! Kim Hanlon asked the bus driver to honk his horn to let everyone know that we were excited to be back and he did it with a huge smile on his face. We walked through the doors to find Galina waiting with her arms open as wide as she could make them, ready to give hugs to anyone who walked through that door.
Galina led us into the cafeteria for the opening ceremonies and it was the first time we got to see most of the kids. It was truly amazing to see their faces light up as they saw their pen pals, sponsors, and friends walk through the doors. I then knew that nothing has changed even with a very long break of not seeing them.
The kids performed their orphanage anthem for us and of course, Katya sang a song for us. It was Dima A.’s birthday and we sang him happy birthday and the kids who had birthday’s that week were also acknowledged. One of them was Natasha B, who has the same birthday as Maddie on March 23rd. Galina told us that she had been working hard on a beautiful cross-stitched pillow and she had asked her who she was making the pillow for. She had responded that she was making it for Holly, my mom. It was touching to see that even though my mom couldn’t make it on this trip or the October trip, she was still being thought of often and she had made a big impact on Natasha. Galina proceeded to tell us that she was sure that this pillow would help Holly feel better because it was made with so much love. I could feel God with us in Russia and at home with Holly in Chapel Hill with that presentation.
Natasha ended up getting the biggest (belated) birthday present of anyone as a reward for her hard work and kind heart. I was very proud of her for being so caring for my mom and was glad to see that our visits and letters have helped show her in the right direction.
Natasha was also supposed to be leaving for Camp Squirrel today (a time for the kids to relax away from the orphanage). My dad, Craig, was leaving the orphanage when Sveta (one of our amazing translators) told him that Natasha wanted him to know that she would NOT be going to Camp Squirrel because of a sore throat that she had. Natasha could be seen around the corner with a big grin on her face. Though I doubt the sore throat story, I am glad that we will be able to see her again and hopefully she will recover soon. 🙂